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Russian crypto scammers are targeting YouTube, Google researchers warn

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Google-owned video sharing app YouTube is rife with phishing and crypto scams, researchers at the search engine giant’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) recently discovered. Researchers said cybercriminals are using cookie-stealing malware to hijack YouTube channels to promote phishing and scams. Google has linked the activities to the group found active on Russian forums. The malware allows hackers to access people’s passwords and even YouTube channel credentials.

Online games, anti-virus software and photo-editing are some of the ways cybercriminals are approaching YouTube users to commit fraud, a TAG report has revealed. Hackers are also creating fake pages on social networking platforms to direct their victims to click on infected links.

The researchers further warned that these cybercriminals are using breached YouTube channels for live streaming crypto content to defraud investors.

“A large number of hijacked channels were rebranded for live streaming cryptocurrency scams. Channel names, profile pictures and content were all replaced with cryptocurrency branding in order 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.

An in-depth analysis of the case revealed that the hacked YouTube channel was trading in the range of $3 (approximately Rs.225) to $4,000 (approximately Rs.3 lakh).

In July 2020, famous Indian YouTuber Ajai Nagar, better known as CarryMinati, reported that one of his YouTube channels had been compromised and was showing suspicious bitcoin links to his followers.

Along with YouTube, crypto-scammers are also abusing other platforms such as WhatsApp and Twitter to profit from unsuspecting crypto enthusiasts.

Last year, the verified accounts of several famous 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 the scam.

Amidst the expansion of the crypto-culture on a global scale, scammers are trying to find more opportunities to use this development in their favor.

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

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


Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things Orbital with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on 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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