Russian Crypto Scammers Targeting YouTube, Google Researchers Warn

The scammers are hijacking channels to peddle crypto, among other things.

Russian Crypto Scammers Targeting YouTube, Google Researchers Warn

Crypto scams have amounted to around $10.52 billion (roughly Rs. 79,194 crore) in 2020

Highlights
  • Google has warned YouTube users of scammers misusing the platform
  • Hackers are targeting YouTube users and channels to power crypto-scams
  • Crypto scams have picked up pace on social networking platforms

Google-owned video sharing app YouTube is riddled with phishing and crypto scams, researchers from the search engine giant's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) have recently discovered. Cyber criminals are using cookie-theft malware to hijack YouTube channels to promote phishing and scams, the researchers said. Google has linked the activities to a group found active on Russian forums. With the malware, hackers can access people's passwords and even YouTube channel credentials.

Online games, anti-virus softwares, and photo-editing are some ways using which cyber criminals are approaching YouTube users to scam them, a report by TAG has revealed. Hackers have also been creating fake pages on social networking platforms to direct their victims to and make them click on infected links.

Researchers further warned that these cyber criminals have been using breached YouTube channels for live streaming crypto content to scam investors.

“A large number of hijacked channels were rebranded for cryptocurrency scam live-streaming. The channel name, profile picture and content were all replaced with cryptocurrency branding to impersonate large tech or cryptocurrency exchange firms. The attacker live-streamed videos promising cryptocurrency giveaways in exchange for an initial contribution,” Ashley Shen from Google's TAG wrote in the report.

Deeper analysis into the matter has revealed that hacked YouTube channels were trading within the range of $3 (roughly Rs. 225) to $4,000 (roughly Rs. 3 lakh).

In July 2020, famous Indian YouTuber Ajay Nagar, who is known by the name of CarryMinati, had reported that one of his YouTube channels had been compromised and was showing questionable Bitcoin links to his followers.

Along with YouTube, crypto-scammers have also been misusing other platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter among others, to unlawfully extract benefits from unsuspecting crypto enthusiasts.

Last year, the verified accounts of several well-known people including Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian West and, Elon Musk were hacked by crypto-criminals, who posted infected Bitcoin links to lure their victims into a scam.

Amid the expansion of the crypto-culture on a global level, scammers have been trying to find more opportunities to use this development in their favour.

Earlier in April, a report had revealed that the total crypto crime in 2020 has amounted to around $10.52 billion (roughly Rs. 79,194 crore).

Analyst firm Chainalysis in a recent report had also revealed that at least $815 million (roughly Rs. 6,135 crore) was sent in crypto to scam projects from Eastern European countries between July 2020 and June 2021.


Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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Further reading: Cryptocurrency, Google, YouTube, Scam
Radhika Parashar is a senior correspondent for Gadgets 360. She has been reporting on tech and telecom for the last three years now and will be focussing on writing about all things crypto. Besides this, she is a major sitcom nerd and often replies in Chandler Bing and Michael Scott references. For tips or queries you could reach out to her at RadhikaP@ndtv.com. More
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