Better than Ransomware: YouTube Crypto Livestream Scams

If you cannot have a picnick without ants, you also cannot have crypto without scams. And although scams come and go, one particular scam which has unrivaled staying power is the YouTube livestream crypto giveaway scam, which was first spotted in 2019 and is still going strong. The scam takes many forms, either a Michael Saylor video promising to double Bitcoin sent to an address, or videos involving the founder and CEO of Cardano, Charles Hoskinson. Vitalik Buterin is another common target. But of course, the promised doubled crypto never comes, hence a scam.

The amount of money being made is huge, all without the risks or costs of ransomware or any other crime. No tainted crypto, no law enforcement on your ass, no software upgrades rendering your malware obsolete, no widespread media coverage. Just an unending assembly line of hacked YouTube channels quietly churning out scam videos 24-7, each making thousands of tens of thousands of dollars which over many months adds up to millions of dollars of risk-free profit. So its makes as much money as ransomware but with none of the risks and much more consistent pay. It’s a scammer/fraudster’s dream come true.

Again , how much money do these scammers make? A shit ton. I saw an Eth address with $140k received. I saw a Bitcoin address that made $50k from 2 day’s worth of videos. Another had a couple BTC in it. Then there are other coins such as ADA. This is the tip of a massive iceberg that one must see to behold its enormity. Even Google engineers and Wall Street quant’s annual salaries are not anywhere anywhere close to the weekly earnings of these scam videos.

And again no risk. Scant media coverage. People on Reddit complain about the videos, but nothing can be done. And this is why the scam works so well and pays so consistently. Because Google uses automated systems to remove videos, so as long as the scammers can bypass the algos, they can keep the videos up for hours on end by making subtle tweaks to the content, until the videos are eventually removed and the hacked YouTube channel is terminated or returned to its rightful owner, at which point the scammers have already make tons of money. And given that they have an unlimited supply of hacked channels to choose from, no biggie.

This scam would fail miserably on Reddit because it uses human moderators and admins, so the videos would not last hours but would be deleted within minutes of being reported and the users banned. No so with YouTube. And this has been the greatest gift for scammers, that since 2018 or so has collectively earned them at least $70 million between the videos and scam tweets as well.

And it shows no sign of slowing. The videos are up now. And will be up tomorrow. And next week, next year, as long as they are profitable and (and looking at the wallet addresses, god damn they are), and YouTube keeps relying on algos that are so porous as to be useless.