YouTube fraudsters steal $1.7M in fake ‘giveaway’ scheme


YouTube fraudsters are at it again – this promising to give away free cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin) by targeting unsuspecting victims. The scam gang ran 36 YouTube streams between February 16 and 18, attracting at least 165,000 viewers and made off with over $1.7m in crypto.

How did the scam work?

The scammers used hacked channels to post  footage of tech entrepreneurs and crypto enthusiasts like Elon Musk, Brad Garlinghouse, Michael Saylor, Changpeng Zhao and Cathie Wood to add legitimacy to their videos.

The streams they created featured links to at least 29 websites with instructions on how to double cryptocurrency investments. To participate, ‘investors’ were urged to send a small amount of virtual currency and told they would then receive twice that amount back.

Depending on the cryptocurrency and type of wallets used, some victims were asked to enter seed phrases to ‘connect’ their wallets. However, that enabled the fraudsters to gain control over their wallet and withdraw all funds.

Within just three days, the scammers received 281 transactions totaling almost $1.7m into their crypto wallets. However, the exact number of victims and total amount stolen remains unknown.

The Takeaway

The fake crypto giveaway scheme is not new, but apparently is still relevant. Seems like everyone who hasn’t yet bought Bitcoin and has heard of Bitcoin billionaires has FOMO (fear of missing out).

Many scams hit the Internet on Fridays, which is why I try to send this emails on Fridays btw! Be skeptical of free giveaways and how much confidential data you share online, especially when it comes to your finances. And if you are dealing in crypto, be sure to never share your seed phrases with suspicious sources and keep them stored securely with a password manager.

For anyone not dealing in crypto, be careful – it’s the wild west! 

Stay safe out there.

-A