A new study has revealed that scammers compromised YouTube videos and cumulatively earned at least $8.9 million in October alone through fake cryptocurrency giveaways.
According to the research by Tenable, the scammers leveraged YouTube live videos featuring influential figures in the crypto space and profited from promoting fake giveaways involving Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, Ripple, and Shiba Inu.
Bitcoin-related scams recorded the highest returns at $8.2m, while Ethereum scams brought in $413,000. Furthermore, they leverage the popularity of SHIB to earn about $239,000.
The research indicates that the scammers deployed three key elements to promote fake crypto giveaways, including the use of notable figures in the cryptocurrency space, cryptocurrencies rising in value alongside newsworthy events.
The videos were designed in a manner to feature an unrelated interview involving notable figures. The videos were already available on YouTube. The footage also entailed a fake tweet highlighting the giveaway event alongside a section that promised viewers that if they send an amount of the affected crypto, they will double it.
Notable figures used in YouTube scams
Some of the notable figures used in the scams include Michael Saylor, chairman and CEO of MicroStrategy, Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder; Charles Hoskinson, Cardano founder and Ethereum co-founder; Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple Labs; and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla.
“Scammers recognize 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 discussed the purchase of cryptocurrencies for their company balance sheets,” said a spokesperson for Tenable.
Additionally, they leveraged newsworthy events like Elon Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live. It was highly expected that Musk would talk about DOGE driving the asset’s price to a new high during the show. In this line, the scammers hijacked YouTube accounts with millions of subscribers to anticipate the events and the potential impact on the cryptocurrency at hand.
Furthermore, the study warned that despite public education to spot and avoid falling victim to the scams, the fraudsters would continue evolving in their craft as they adopt new ways.