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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A number of prominent Twitter accounts, including those of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Elon Musk, appear to have been compromised Wednesday, posting messages tied to a cryptocurrency scam.

The latest: Twitter temporarily disabled all verified accounts from tweeting for several accounts. At about 8:45 pm ET, Twitter said in a statement: "Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible."

Why it matters: Twitter has become a key source of communication, and people generally assume the content posted by an account is from the person who owns the account, increasing the likelihood of a scam being successful.

  • One bitcoin wallet linked to the scam appears to have received the equivalent of over $100,000, according to CNBC.

Details: The accounts of Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg and Kanye West, as well as companies Apple, Bitcoin.org, Coinbase and Ripple, were similarly compromised, in addition to several others.

  • Late Wednesday, Twitter posted: "We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools."
  • A Biden spokesperson said in a statement, "Twitter locked down the account immediately following the breach and removed the related tweet. We remain in touch with Twitter on the matter."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

PayPal brings bitcoin to the mainstream

Expand chart
Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

PayPal's decision to allow customers to hold bitcoin and other virtual currencies in its online wallet and shop using cryptocurrencies sent the value of bitcoin soaring on Wednesday.

Why it matters: With 346 million active accounts around the world and 26 million merchants, PayPal could bring cryptocurrencies into mainstream acceptance.

6 mins ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.