There was a ton of very real news and product announcements during Apple’s “Far Out” launch event yesterday, but none of it exactly related to cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, a lot of consumers could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, thanks to crypto scammers’ newest manipulations of YouTube video algorithms, keywords, relevant SEO, and hashtags.
According to multiple outlets and first spotted by The Verge, an estimated 165,000 viewers tuned into at least two fake Apple Event “livestreams” which instead played a prerecorded 2018 CNN interview with company CEO Tim Cook, as well as an old conversation held between Twitter co-founder/former CEO Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk. Banner ads like “Apple is buying 100,000 Bitcoins” on the videos then redirected visitors to sham crypto giveaway websites.
[Related: Apple announces iPhone 14, new Watches, and more.]
This is far from the first time bad actors gamed YouTube’s algorithms in order to steal viewers’ data and cash. For months now, dozens of streams have continued cropping up on the highly trafficked streaming site, displaying clips such as Elon Musk discussing Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies while peddling link-outs to various scams. Some of these videos stem from dummy channels setup by the digital thieves, while others involve the hijacking of existing channels—like the macabre takeover of a deceased video game YouTuber earlier this year.
Crypto cons aren’t limited to sites like YouTube. Almost exactly a year ago, the FBI put out a special public service announcement warning Americans looking for love online to be wary of scammers posing as possible dating app matches. And then there’s the oldie but a still a goodie—the classic Nigerian prince scam, which is still somehow duping people, apparently.
[Related: Scammers are taking money and breaking hearts.]
Regardless of medium, there are a number of simple steps everyone can take online to minimize the risk of falling for these increasingly clever hoaxes. Antivirus software is instrumental for protection, as well as the general rule of thumb to think before you click any external ad links or file attachments. Also, we swear to you, no deposed royalty is looking to reclaim their Bitcoin funds.