AI-Powered Deepfake on YouTube Tricks Users into $600K Crypto Heist

  • Editor
  • January 23, 2024

In a striking example of the dark side of technological advancement, cybercriminals have siphoned off over $600,000 by exploiting YouTube’s expansive reach. This sophisticated criminal operation, known as ‘Stream-jacking,’ has combined cutting-edge AI technology and deep fake videos to execute cryptocurrency scams.

Through these means, scammers have impersonated high-profile figures such as Elon Musk and Michael Saylor, as well as renowned brands like XRP and Tesla, ensnaring unsuspecting victims in their deceitful web.

The criminals behind these scams have utilized artificial intelligence to create deepfakes of known figures and celebrities, hijacking YouTube channels to execute their nefarious plans.

Bitdefender’s investigation, which led to the discovery of these crimes, reveals a complex collaboration between multiple threat actors. These individuals specialize in various aspects of the scam, ranging from credential stealing to creating and distributing malicious content.

Several individuals captured and shared screen recordings of different deepfake advertisements on their accounts to raise awareness about the issue.

The process of these scams is meticulously orchestrated. Attackers strategically target high-value YouTube accounts with large subscriber bases across various countries.

Once an account is compromised, it undergoes a rapid transformation, including changing names and deploying deceptive avatars and banners to resemble legitimate sources of cryptocurrency news or announcements.

A significant advancement in the criminals’ tactics is the use of deepfake videos, which add a layer of authenticity to the scams. These videos sometimes of reasonable quality, feature figures like MicroStrategy’s former CEO, contributing to the deception.

As the news spread across the internet, individuals flocked to their social media platforms to share their encounters with various deepfake advertisements.

Bitdefender’s report indicates that these scams have been a growing trend, with a significant number of incidents reported in late 2023 and early 2024.

The scale of this criminal enterprise is vast, with the top three hijacked accounts alone accounting for over 31 million subscribers. Estimates suggest that these scams have successfully stolen $600,000 so far.

While platforms like YouTube have been swift in removing malicious content, there is a noted lack of preventive measures against these scams. Users are urged to exercise caution, especially with promises of cryptocurrency doubling, and to report any suspicious activity immediately.

This incident is a stark reminder of the evolving nature of cyber threats in the age of AI and deepfakes. As technology advances, so do cybercriminals’ tactics, making it imperative for users and platforms to stay vigilant and proactive in combating these threats.

This report underscores the importance of user awareness and the need for robust security measures in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber scams.

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Dave Andre


Digital marketing enthusiast by day, nature wanderer by dusk. Dave Andre blends two decades of AI and SaaS expertise into impactful strategies for SMEs. His weekends? Lost in books on tech trends and rejuvenating on scenic trails.

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