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.
Tenable has calculated that, across a subset of YouTube Live scams encountered over the last month alone, scammers have stolen at least $8.9m.
“Scammers are leveraging compromised YouTube accounts to promote fake cryptocurrency giveaways for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, Ripple, Shiba Inu and other cryptocurrencies,” said Satnam Narang, staff research engineer at Tenable. “The Bitcoin scams I monitored received $8.2m in stolen funds, for an average amount of $1.6m per scam. Ethereum scams received $413k in stolen funds, receiving on average $82,778 per scam. Finally, Shiba Inu scams earned $239k in funds, receiving on average $34,192 per scam.”
Scammers know that users place a lot of trust in influential voices, so they create fake videos featuring cryptocurrency founders and co-founders, as well as notable individuals associated with cryptocurrency companies or CEOs of companies who have promoted 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.
Across a number of fake YouTube Live videos Satnam has identified, scammers were using footage of notable figures including:
● Michael Saylor, chairman and CEO of MicroStrategy and a fervent supporter of Bitcoin
● Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder
● Charles Hoskinson, Cardano founder and Ethereum co-founder
● Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple Labs
● Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
The common thread amongst 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.
To help thwart the efforts of scammers, Satnam offers the following advice, “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. Never send cryptocurrency to participate in a giveaway, as it’s unlikely to be genuine, and you won’t be able to recover your digital money once it has been sent. It’s also important for viewers to help play their part and report these YouTube Live videos as there’s a chance it might save someone from falling victim.”
Reporting videos on YouTube can be done by clicking on the flag icon beneath the video and selecting the spam or misleading category and selecting scams or fraud in the dropdown menu.