Cybercriminals are profiting from the X “Gold” verification badge by selling compromised accounts for phishing and scams on the dark web marketplaces and forums, a new report revealed on Thursday.

According to the cybersecurity firm CloudSEK, these accounts pose a huge risk for organizations and individuals alike, as they can be used to spread disinformation, launch phishing attacks, and steal sensitive information.

X Gold is a paid feature introduced by the Elon Musk-run microblogging platform, which grants accounts a gold badge alongside the blue and grey tick, signifying legitimacy and brand recognition.

However, the ease of obtaining Twitter Gold has attracted malicious actors who are purchasing and compromising accounts to further their nefarious activities, the report noted.

The researchers found that dark web marketplaces are flooded with advertisements selling X Gold accounts, with prices ranging from $35 for a basic account to $2,000 for accounts with large followings.

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“The advertisements on the dark web can be traced back to multiple online shops and their marketing partners, such as Facebook, Telegram, etc. Some X account providers have hosted their shops successfully for over four years and used the same medium to advertise Twitter Gold accounts,” said Rishika Desai, Cyber Threat Researcher at CloudSEK.

“The amount of shops and service providers today is humongous, and most of them can be detected by running simple Google Dorks,” she added.

According to the report, hackers can use Twitter Gold accounts to send seemingly legitimate tweets containing malicious links that steal personal information, such as login credentials and credit card numbers.

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They can also spread false information and propaganda through Twitter Gold accounts, potentially impacting public opinion and causing reputational damage.

In addition, hackers can use these accounts to promote fake investment opportunities, cryptocurrency scams, and other financial frauds, the report said.

Researchers recommended regularly monitoring brand mentions on Twitter and implementing strong password policies to protect against account compromise.

Be wary of tweets from unknown accounts, especially those with the Gold badge. Do not click on suspicious links or engage with accounts that seem too good to be true.