A recent report from crypto monitoring service Whale Alert revealed the gravity of crypto scam on video-sharing platform YouTube.
According to the report, the “giveaway” scams lure folks with the promise of doubling their crypto after sending an initial amount to a specified wallet address via QR code.
Scammers hijack popular YouTube accounts and change their names to appear as the official accounts of famous personalities like Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao or companies like Apple.
They then broadcast a video showing footage of the celebrity talking about developments in the crypto sector or the need to give back to the community, along with text claiming an ongoing BTC giveaway from the said celebrity.
Cyber-thieves are finding much success in duping unsuspecting YouTube users to part with their Bitcoin because the giveaway schemes have become very believable and aggressive, the report published on July 10th further explained.
One particularly scam made over $130K in a day with nothing more than a one-page website, a BTC address and a decent amount of YouTube advertising.
YouTube Scammers Could Make $50M This Year
There are dozens of different scams being perpetrated on YouTube, including fake exchanges, fake initial coin offerings, Bitcoin recovery and video scams.
However, the most prominent type of scam at the moment is the giveaway, according to Whale Alert’s report, which reveals that scammers made off with $38M worth of BTC in the last four years, excluding Ponzi schemes.
By the end of this year, Whale Alert approximations that crypto thieves will make more than $50M in annual returns, marking a 2,000% surge since 2017.
The scams are usually successful as they utilize the identities of celebrities like Elon Musk or a well-known exchange to lure people into sending their Bitcoin, with help from YouTube advertising.
Case in point, crypto scammers recently hijacked three YouTube channels to impersonate Elon Musk’s SpaceX channel, offering fake BTC giveaways that earned them approximately $150K in just two days.
On July 23rd, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sued YouTube for the proliferation of BTC giveaway on the platform via videos that falsely use Wozniak and other celebrities such as Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin to give the legitimacy of the scam.
Similarly, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse filed a lawsuit against YouTube in April in response to the platform’s failure to stop XRP scammers on the platform.
YouTube Says It Isn’t Liable For Crypto Scams
YouTube’s legal team has strongly claimed that the platform is immune from liability for cryptocurrency scams perpetrated as part of its video content or descriptions.
Ironically, the platform reportedly takes crypto scams seriously and says that it removed 2.2 million videos and disabled 1.7M accounts for “spam, scams, and deceptive practices in Q1 2020.
However, many reiterate that YouTube isn’t doing nearly enough to stamp out these cryptocurrency scams, with Whale Alert warning in their report:
“Whatever is being done right now to stop these criminals is not enough, and if we don’t act as a community, the reputation of blockchain might not be able to recover in the long run.”
Meanwhile, YouTube also seems to be showing double-standards in its handling of crypto-related content after it “erroneously” purged cryptocurrency education videos from its video-sharing platform in 2019.
Since then, the platform has carried on with its crypto censorship campaign by yet again blocking and deleting a live-stream hosted by crypto media outlet Cointelegraph in May of this year.