Elon Musk, YouTube & Bitcoin

YouTube is being criticised for failing to tackle a network of cyber-criminals streaming fake Elon Musk videos to scam viewers.The criminals are hijacking YouTube accounts and using the videos to promote bogus cryptocurrency giveaways.

The BBC reports that it found dozens of these streams being watched by tens of thousands of people over a few days.

Elon Musk has said that YouTube was not tackling "scam ads". YouTube says it removes channels that are reported and for months, the streams have been fooling thousands of people into sending crypto-currency to criminals, thinking they will win a prize.

One of the most common links to website https://elon-x2.live/, which invites people to double their money by sending Bitcoin or Ethereum to the digital-wallet addresses advertised and the fraud appears to be highly profitable. Wallet transaction history shows the scammers made $243,000 (£194,000) in just over a week:

  • 23 transfers of Bitcoin totalling 7.68923261 coins worth $234,000
  • 18 transfers of Ethereum totalling 5.016 coins worth $9,000

Analysts at the crypto currency transaction monitoring firm Whale Alert say the giveaway scammer wallets that  they track show profits of $98m in 2021and $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 Musk is chief executive. They are thought to buy email-and-password pairs from previous data breaches online - or simply try common passwords in combination with known email addresses.

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."

Whale Alert founder Frank van Weert says the fraudsters are still making millions and set for a boost if the price of Bitcoin rises. However, the criminals could be stopped if cryptocurrency exchanges blocked their wallets to prevent them cashing out their stolen coins.

The vast majority of the fake livestreams show financial firm ARK Invest's July panel with Musk and then Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey.  ARK  Invest says it "is aware of hacked third-party YouTube channels fraudulently posing as ARK... These accounts are impersonators and not affiliated with ARK Invest in any way,.  ARK Invest will never use YouTube or other social media to solicit money, including cryptocurrency."

BBC:      IQStock:     WFN:      Headtopics:    Livemint:    APA:  

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