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YouTube Accused Of Not Tackling Elon Musk Bitcoin Scam Streams
YouTube is being criticised for failing to tackle a network of cyber-criminals streaming fake Elon Musk videos to scam viewers. Live Streamers Pretending To Be Elon Musk Ask For Cryptocurrency; Make $243,000 In A Week
Himanshu S.
6:10 11th Jun, 2022

The criminals are hijacking YouTube accounts and using the videos to promote bogus cryptocurrency giveaways.

BBC News found dozens of these streams being watched by tens of thousands of people over four days this month.

On Tuesday, Elon Musk said YouTube was not tackling "scam ads". YouTube says it removes channels that are reported.

For many months, the streams have been fooling thousands of people into sending cryptocurrency to criminals, thinking they will receive a prize from Mr Musk.

One of the most common links to website, which invites people to double their money by sending Bitcoin or Ethereum to the digital-wallet addresses advertised.

Wallet transaction history shows the scammers made $243,000 (£194,000) in just over a week:

  • 23 transfers of bitcoin totaling 7.68923261 coins worth $234,000
  • 18 transfers of Ethereum totaling 5.016 coins worth $9,000
  • Analysts at Whale Alert say giveaway scammer wallets they track show profits of:
  • $98m in 2021
  • $30m so far this year

Every few days, the hackers change the name and picture of dozens of YouTube channels to make them look like official Tesla channels, the electric-car manufacturer of which Mr. Musk is chief executive.

They are thought to buy email-and-password pairs from previous data breaches online - or simply try common passwords with known email addresses.

Chilean urban-music artist Aisack had YouTube channel hacked and hijacked two weeks ago.

  • 'I lost £400,000 to fake Elon Musk giveaway scam'
  • Dead YouTuber hacked by Musk Bitcoin scammers

"My followers on other social networks started asking me what is going on with the name of my channel and were very confused about why I was streaming Tesla content," he said.

"It is very frustrating that your YouTube channel is hacked after dedicating so many years of work to it.

"I feel completely violated and insecure.

"The hacking of my channel has hurt me a lot, since I am a few days away from releasing a new music video and now I am creating a second channel as a back-up and re-uploading more than 10 years of work on YouTube.

"YouTube is not doing enough on security issues to prevent hacker attacks, since many users are in the same situation as me."

However, YouTube said it had removed one of the channels BBC News had alerted it to, adding: "We have strict Community Guidelines prohibiting scams, including Impersonation and hacking."


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