Social media platforms and YouTube are plagued by a large number of fake domains that ultimately lead to cryptocurrency giveaway scams. It is also found that these scams have emerged as an illicit market segment with multiple services that aim to facilitate fraudulent operations. That’s not all! Group-IB researchers made new revelations concerning giveaway scams, which every cryptocurrency investor must be aware of before making the next investment decision.

The staggering figures from H1 2022

  • Researchers have noted a fivefold increase in the number of fake domains that were used for cryptocurrency giveaway scams in the first half of 2022. 
  • In addition to leveraging fake YouTube streams, scammers have been found exploiting big names such as Michael J Saylor, Cathie Wood, Brad Garlinghouse, Vitalik Buterin, Elon Musk, and Nayib Bukele to launch multiple scams.    
  • Around 63% of the fraudulent domains were registered with Russian domain registrars and included content to target English and Spanish-speaking crypto investors in the U.S. and other countries. 
  • The top five most popular domain used for scam websites included .com (31.65%), .net (23.86%), .org (22.94%), and .us (5.89%). 

Prominent channels used to attract users

  • Fake YouTube streams are one of the primary sources to attract crypto investors, followed by Twitch and crypto streaming platforms. 
  • To set up a fake live stream, scammers hijack YouTube accounts using dedicated stealer tools or buy/rent account credentials sold on underground forums.
  • After gaining access to a legitimate account, a fake crypto streamer renames the channel, deletes all the previously uploaded videos from the playlist, changes the user pic, adds new design features, and uploads relevant crypto-related content.
  • On average, these fake streams amounts receive views between 10,000 and 20,000, including bots. 

Concerning part

  • Group-IB reveals that a full-fledged underground marketplace providing end-to-end services is available for amateur scammers seeking ways to carry out crypto fraud schemes. 
  • These forums offer a wide range of services that include hacked YouTube accounts, viewer boosting services, detailed tutorials on how to set up scams, drag-and-drop website creation platforms, bulletproof hosting services, and deepfake creation tools.

Advice for users

Users are advised to be vigilant about free giveaways and not to share confidential data on fake websites. Double-check the legitimacy of the streams and websites before clicking on them. Visit only the official sources to prevent falling into such attacks.
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