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Deepfakes Are Taking Over YouTube and Powering Crypto Scams

This cybercrime involves hijacking streams of popular channels using livestream pop-ups, QR codes as well as malicious links.
Deepfakes are shaping stream-jacking scams | Pexels | Photo by
Deepfakes are shaping stream-jacking scams | Pexels | Photo by

In October 2023, researchers at Bitdefender Labs kept tabs on stream-jacking against high-profile YouTube accounts that were being used for crypto scams. This year, they released a report that highlights the rise in stream-jacking attacks. The research shows that cybercriminals very cleverly advance their craft to increase their reach and efficiency. Despite companies like McAfee launching tools like MockingBird, which is designed to especially detect and flag deepfake content, scammers are still finding success in crypto scams. In some cases, they have successfully managed to bypass facial recognition. 

Image Source: GettyImages/
Szabó Viktor
GettyImages/ Szabó Viktor

This cybercrime involves hijacking streams of popular channels using livestream pop-ups, QR codes as well as malicious links. Crypto-doubling scams lure viewers into giving their cryptocurrency to platforms that promise quick returns. Once the victims deposit their cryptocurrency, they are separated from it forever. In some cases, the scammers use high-profile announcements and news.

For instance, in one incident attackers used the “SpaceX Starship integrated flight test 2” official event to launch fake live streams under "SpaceX Launch Starship Flight Test! Elon Musk gives update on Starship!" on certain hacked channels. In some cases, scammers have used variants of the name of the entity they are impersonating. For example, @SpaceX becomes @spacex1.

Online scams Pexels | by Anna Tarazevich
Pexels | by Anna Tarazevich

Some of the premeditated scams that the researchers found were "Ripple XRP Case Reaching A HAPPY End - SEC Lose? Brad Garlinghouse LIVE,"  "SpaceX USSF-52 Mission Launch! Elon Musk gives update on Starship!," "Changpeng Zhao: I'm not leaving! I'm free! Today is a big event! Scan the QR code and read the rules," "Elon Musk Live: Tesla's Cybertruck Debut and Production Insights!," and more. 

Fraudsters have reportedly started using deep fake technology to create fake videos of prominent figures in cryptocurrency. Using deep fake, they can easily fool everyone. As the technology gets better and better, the task of telling fake from real is becoming difficult. Some of the deepfakes are of great quality and are skillfully engineered to encourage viewers to click on the malicious link or scam the OR code. Sometimes, these videos are also posted as YouTube ad so that it's easier to spread and ultimately reaches more people. 

Image Source: Pexels/ Pixabay
Crypto scams are taking over the digital world (representative image) | Pexels | Pixabay

These scams have become a serious issue since 2020. So much so that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sued YouTube over a Bitcoin scam that used his name. It's best to be cautious of unexpected changes in content and always double-check every link and QR code before clicking and scanning. It's important to remember that no matter how great the scammers get at their job, they will always rely on you to take action. So before taking any action, it's always best to verify your source. Another great way to make your YouTube/Google Account more secure is by enabling two-factor authentication to prevent any unauthorized access to your account.