Beware of Bill Gates-Themed Crypto Ponzi Scam on YouTube

  • The hackers reportedly renamed the compromised YouTube channels to various Microsoft brands.
  • The hackers aired the vast majority of live streams on YouTube channels with high subscriber counts. 

There’s a cryptocurrency Ponzi scam targeting thousands of users through multiple hijacked YouTube accounts. Such scams were quite common on Twitter sometime back, and is now a growing issue on YouTube.

What happened?
Researchers have discovered tens of YouTube accounts that were compromised by hackers to spread fake messages posing as Microsoft's former CEO Bill Gates.

  • The hackers reportedly renamed the crompromised YouTube channels to various Microsoft brands.
  • The hackers were observed broadcasting a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme via these channels to defraud tens of thousands of users.

How does it work?
Hackers are always looking for popular accounts to win the trust of potential targets.

  • Hackers use these accounts to broadcast a classic "crypto giveaway" scheme.
  • In the Bill Gates-themed scam, the hackers live stream an old Bill Gates talk on startups (where he spoke to an audience at Village Global in June 2019), and also asking the viewers to participate in a scammy giveaway.
  • They manipulate victims into sending them a small sum of cryptocurrency so that they can double their earnings, which never happens.

The present situation
The cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme was reported streaming live on the compromised YouTube accounts. It is using names such as Microsoft US, Microsoft Europe, Microsoft News, and others.

  • The hackers aired the vast majority of live streams on YouTube channels with high subscriber counts. 
  • Based on YouTube stream stats, tens of thousands have seen the video feeds.

According to researchers, some of the Bitcoin addresses listed by the scammers revealed that they had received thousands of US dollars by fooling at least some users.

Response from Microsoft
Meanwhile, the spokespersons for Microsoft and YouTube claimed that the hackers did not breach any of Microsoft's verified official accounts. However, live streams were broadcasted through non-verified Microsoft accounts by some users.