Crypto scammers have stolen at least $8.9 million via cryptocurrency giveaways on fake YouTube accounts of celebrity users, a report showed on Wednesday.
Cyber exposure company Tenable has warned users to be alert to fake cryptocurrency giveaways on social media, as fake Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, Ripple, and Shiba Inu giveaways proliferate on YouTube Live.
Across a number of fake YouTube Live videos, the company identified scammers were using footage of notable figures including Michael Saylor, chairman and CEO of MicroStrategy and a supporter of Bitcoin, Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder, Charles Hoskinson, Cardano founder and Ethereum co-founder, Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple Labs, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
While scammers hijacking legitimate YouTube accounts to promote fake cryptocurrency giveaways are not new, individuals are still being duped, making these scams extremely lucrative, the company said in a statement.
“The Bitcoin scams received $8.2 million in stolen funds, for an average amount of $1.6 million per scam. Ethereum scams received $413k in stolen funds, receiving on average $82,778 per scam. Finally, Shiba Inu scams earned $239,000 in funds, receiving on average $34,192 per scam,” explained Satnam Narang, staff research engineer at Tenable.
Scammers recognise that users place a lot of trust in influential voices so create fake videos featuring the founders and co-founders of cryptocurrencies as well as notable individuals associated with cryptocurrency companies or CEOs of companies who have promoted the use of and/or discussed the purchase of cryptocurrencies for their company balance sheets.
“Combined with the plethora of existing interview footage featuring many of these notable figures, scammers have developed a formula that adds legitimacy to their efforts and has continued to work for years,” the report noted.
The common thread among all of these fake YouTube Live streams is that users are directed to external websites that claim to double a users’ cryptocurrency, whether it be Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, Ripple or Shiba Inu.
“It’s really important for users to be skeptical of YouTube Live videos promising giveaways from notable figures such as the ones above and new individuals that may emerge in the future,” Narang said.