Scammers stole “millions” in cryptocurrency in last month: Report

Cybersecurity firm 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 platforms such as YouTube Live.

“While scammers hijacking legitimate YouTube accounts to promote fake cryptocurrency giveaways are not new, individuals are still being duped, making these scams extremely lucrative,” Tenable said in an official release.

It has calculated that, across a subset of YouTube Live scams encountered over the last month alone, scammers have stolen at least $8.9 million.

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“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 monitored 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 $239k in funds, receiving on average $34,192 per scam,” added Narang.

Fake YouTube videos

Scammers have noted that users increasingly trust influential voices. Banking on this fact, scammers 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 for scamming victims.

“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. Additionally, current events featuring high profile individuals offer the perfect fodder for scammers, as they can count on significant interest from audiences looking to watch livestream footage on YouTube,” Tenable said.

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Across a number of fake YouTube Live videos identified by Narang, scammers were using footage of notable figures including Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, 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 and Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple Labs

A common factor among all 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. This technique is the gold standard for cryptocurrency scams.

“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,” said Narang.

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“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,” Narang further advised.

Users can report such videos on YouTube 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.