Scammers are now posing as the official foundations and development teams of popular cryptocurrencies on live YouTube streams in a bid to defraud victims of their crypto.
The videos, which embed footage from official crypto conferences and interviews, are typical scams asking users to send funds to a given address to receive an airdrop of greater value.
Interestingly, the resurgence of this type of fraud comes almost exactly a year after similar live video scams were reported by the crypto community in 2018.
Scammers target the Litecoin community
The first live scam videos to surface on YouTube appeared to feature Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, apparently giving away 50,000 LTC to users who sent funds to a specified Litecoin address.
The video description stated that users must deposit a “minimum of five LTC during the competition period”, roughly $300 at current prices, to be in with a chance to receive airdrops of up to 50 LTC. With bots claiming that they had received payouts in the live comments, the scam may appear very legitimate to novice users.
A screen-grab of the scam shared by a Reddit user appears to show over 1,200 viewers of the live stream, although it’s unclear how many of these views may have been bots. The scam account, convincingly named ‘LiteCoin Foundation’, has over 4,000 subscribers.
At the time of writing, the scam account is still live and currently broadcasting a live steam. Previous videos, which show a fake block explorer sending funds to airdrop ‘winners’ alongside real Litecoin Summit footage, have lasted up to eight hours.
Whilst such scams are highly transparent, they still appear to be effective. An identical live stream Litecoin scam recently received 75 transactions to its specified address, with transactions ranging from five LTC up to 120 LTC.
Scammers are known to send funds to their own address to appear legitimate, although the transaction history from BlockCypher for this particular scam appears to show a few genuine transactions from victims.
Ethereum becomes next target
With users becoming wise to the Litecoin scams, fraudsters are now turning their attention to Ethereum. Scammers are claiming to host an official interview with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, famously named ‘Vitalik Non-giver of Ether’ on his official Twitter, to siphon funds from their victims.
A channel named ‘Ethereum’ on YouTube featured a 40-minute-long video on November 1 claiming it was giving away 100,000 ETH to users. The video attracted 7,200 views. Etherscan shows that the address associated with this scam contains almost $25,000 worth of Ether, although it has been flagged by the community as being part of a phishing scam.
It’s unclear at this point why there is a fresh wave of YouTube live stream scams. Although worryingly, some Reddit cryptocurrency community members have pointed out that these scams are being actively promoted as popular videos by YouTube’s algorithms.