The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly devastating to the economy and in turn affecting the lives of many people. Governments have even taken action to keep businesses afloat and to support citizens with their finances. However, the health crisis has only pushed cybercriminals to take advantage of the situation now that more individuals are online most of the time. In fact, earlier this week cryptocurrency analysts revealed that over $24 million in bitcoin was stolen to date in 2020. Now, it appears that scammers have hacked social media accounts to steal even more.

It has been reported that hackers were able to gain access and take over verified Twitter accounts of prominent US figures. These include Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos. Additionally, politicians such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and even Kanye West, who is running for president in the upcoming US election this November were also compromised. Even companies such as Apple and Square were targeted by the attack.

After hijacking the accounts of the above-mentioned accounts, the hackers posted a message along with bitcoin address. The tweet from Biden's account read: "I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes. Enjoy!"

Meanwhile, another variant on Obama's Twitter account detailed: "I am giving back to my community due to COVID-19! All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled. If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes! Enjoy."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a message that stated: "Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened." According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of the United Kingdom, it has contacted the social media company to discuss the incident.

Hackers have made over $3m in cryptocurrency over the past 18 months by exploiting a vulnerability in Jenkins server to mine Monero JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

For now, users are blocked from entering bitcoin addresses in their tweets as a temporary safety precaution after the cyberattack. Twitter confirmed that control over all accounts has been returned to their owners. Nevertheless, some users pointed out that there are still workarounds to post bitcoin addresses. These are apparently done by the addition of a single character in the middle or the inclusion of a screenshot.