Researchers found a ramified network of bots promoting cryptocurrency fraudulent schemes in the social network. The most popular way to cheat investors is so called giveaways of coins.

The US-based cybersecurity company Duo Security analyzed 88 million of Twitter accounts. They applied 20 unique account characteristics in a machine learning model to differentiate a human Twitter account from a bot. Researchers managed to find a network of 15,000 bots, including fake celebrity accounts, cryptocurrency exchanges, media, verified accounts, etc. The most popular method of cryptocurrency bots is allegedly free distribution of tokens (giveaway).

The scheme of their work is as follows: one bot publishes information on free distribution of cryptocurrencies, and other bots make reposts of the original message and espress gratitude in the comments and confirm that they received free coins in exchange for their transactions to above mentioned address, in reality belonging to scammers.

“Users are likely to trust a tweet more or less depending on how many times it's been retweeted or liked. Those behind this particular botnet know this, and have designed it to exploit this very tendency,” said Duo data scientist Olabode Anise.

Although many leaders of the cryptocurrency industry repeatedly reported that they are not engaged in any free distribution of coins, such schemes continue to attract credulous holders of cryptocurrencies. So, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin changed his nickname in Twitter to Vitalik "Not giving away ETH" Buterin.

The results of this study will be presented for discussion at a conference on cybersecurity Black Hat USA taking place in Las Vegas on 8 August.