YouTube has a policy infringement system where users can report a video that they feel have violated the policy of YouTube such as violent content, abusive content, sexual content, or copyright infringement. Once a video is reported for policy violation, YouTube will review if the policy is deemed to be violated and will issue a strike against the creator of the video and will remove the video.
If YouTube issues three strikes to a YouTube channel over a period of three months, the account will be suspended. Scammers are aware of this YouTube policy violation system and are leveraging this system to extort money from content creators in YouTube.
Scammers report fake copyright infringements against YouTubers
Scammers are misusing the YouTube policy violation system by reporting fake copyright infringements against content creators in YouTube. These scammers then demand a ransom payment from the YouTube content creators threatening that if they do not pay, they will report one more infringement to have their YouTube channel suspended.
Logan aka ObbyRaidz stated in a video that his YouTube channel has been striked twice for fake copyright infringement violations by a scammer under the name ‘VengefulFlame’ who attempted to extort money from him stating that if he doesn't pay ransom of $150 via PayPal or $75 via Bitcoin, the scammer will issue a third strike. Logan also stated that VengefulFlame said that if he makes the payment, then the scammer will contact YouTube and remove the previous strikes placed by him on the channel.
Logan also tweeted the screenshot of the message sent by the scammer, “If you decide not to pay us, we will file a 3rd strike. ViperMC Ownership team won’t be able to help you. But go ahead and try. We’ll give you a short amount of time to make your decision.”
Contents of the extortion message
The extortion message received by Logan from VengefulFlame read the following, “Hi Obby, we striked you. Our request is $150 PayPal or $75 btc. You may send the money via goods/services if you do not think we will cancel or hold up our end of the deal. Once we receive our payment we will cancel both strikes on your channel. Again - you are free to charge back if we don't, but we assure you we will.”
The scammer also attached his PayPal link and Bitcoin address in the message.
Logan’s failed attempts to remove the strikes
Logan tried repeatedly to get YouTube to respond and remove the strikes against his YouTube account but failed miserably. Later, he took to his Twitter account and requested his followers and other YouTubers to spread the word.
However, VengefulFlame who was monitoring Logan’s Twitter account as well went on to send another message to Logan. “Hey, we saw you tweet about us. Not sure why you thought that was a good idea or if you thought you would remotely get any help, but this has violated any potential deal,” the scammer's message read, BleepingComputer reported.
“Enjoy your third copyright strike, and we’ll be making an attempt for your Twitter to get suspended too,” the message added.
Another YouTuber’s account striked by VengefulFlame
Logan was not the only YouTuber to have been striked by VengefulFlame. Another YouTuber named Kenzo was also striked twice by the scammer and received extortion message demanding a ransom payment of $200 in bitcoin or $3oo in PayPal. The ransom demand for Kenzo was high when compared to Logan. This might be because Kenzo had more followers than Logan.
The extortion message Kenzo received read, “Pay $200 in BTC or $300 in PayPal. You can either elect BTC or PayPal in goods and services. We come in good faith that you will be doubtful that we aren't serious. That’s ok. If you elect to pay goods/services we understand. We will cancel all copyrights strikes against you upon receiving the payment.”
“The one catch is IF you initiate a chargeback, not only you will be copyrighted to the fullest extent, but things will get much, much worse for you. Please don’t waste your time, and we won't waste yours,” the extortion message added.
YouTube removes strikes and suspends the scammer’s account
Finally, YouTube removed the strikes for fake copyright infringements from both Logan’s and Kenzo’s accounts. Furthermore, YouTube suspended VengefulFlamer’s account.
“Appreciate you bringing this to our attention – both strikes are resolved and the videos reinstated. Upon review, these takedown notices were abusive, we have zero tolerance for the submission of fraudulent legal requests, so we also terminated the channels that submitted these,” YouTube replied to Logan’s tweet.
“We have zero tolerance for fraudulent actors who try to abuse copyright systems. We responded to reports of these issues and resolved fraudulent strikes well before media ever reached out to us. You can refer to our tweets here and here for a statement on this matter. Creators can always reach out to us on Twitter through @teamyoutube for support,” YouTube told BeepingComputer.