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Scammers stole millions in crypto, says study

Blockchain Technology
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Tenable has warned consumers about bogus cryptocurrency giveaways on social media, citing the proliferation of fake Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, Ripple, and Shiba Inu giveaways on YouTube Live.

Scammers cloning real YouTube channels to advertise phoney bitcoin giveaways is nothing new, yet people continue to be deceived, making these schemes incredibly profitable. Scammers have stolen at least $8.9 million US dollars from a subset of YouTube Live scams encountered in the previous month alone, according to Tenable.

“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.

He added ,“The Bitcoin scams I 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.”

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.”

Because users place a lot of trust in influential voices, scammers 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.

Scammers have devised a technique that adds respectability to their attempts and has worked for years when combined with the abundance of existing interview material involving many of these renowned persons. Furthermore, recent events involving high-profile individuals provide ideal material for scammers, as they can expect a lot of interest from people who want to watch livestream footage on YouTube.

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

All of these phoney YouTube Live streams have one thing in common: they drive consumers to external websites that promise to double their cryptocurrency, whether it’s Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, Ripple, or Shiba Inu. For cryptocurrency scams, this method is the gold standard.

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.

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