Criminals are turning to YouTube to target unsuspecting victims with promises of great returns on fake cryptocurrencies.
Scammers are on pace to steal nearly US$1 million from YouTube users by purchasing ad space on cryptocurrency videos to promote a fake SpaceX coin that they fraudulently claim was created by Elon Musk, from Tenable has found.
That scam resulted in the criminals stealing over $10 million dollars in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Doge tokens.
Staff research engineer at Tenable, Satnam Narang, said these scams highlight how social media is increasingly being used by scammers as a resource to perpetuate crypto-related fraud.
Scam warning signs
Narang said the ads are three to five minutes long and include a fake tweet from Elon Musk that claims he’s launching his own cryptocurrency called $SpaceX.
Within the same template is a description section, featuring a header with the Tesla logo. The description says “Elon Musk is launching his own cryptocurrency, $SpaceX.”
Narag said the scam advertisement claims the purpose of the coin is to “take everyone to Mars and make human life possible there.”
The ad also purports that for each transaction involving the $SpaceX coin, a donation will be made “towards space research companies” in order to “help Elon’s mission.”
“The scammers use various videos of Musk indiscriminately in these YouTube ads,” Narang said.
“These advertisements are hosted on compromised YouTube accounts. When they appear, the name of the user associated with the advertisement is visible.”
Narag said when browsing the user’s profile, it will say the user joined YouTube in August, 2011 – so look out for this sign.
“Many of the accounts I encountered were created between 10-12 years ago. In this instance, there are no other videos associated with the account, except for the one used in the scam advertisement, but that may vary,” he said.
“It is likely these are dormant YouTube accounts, which scammers were able to compromise to promote their dodgy advertisements.”