YouTube has been chastised for failing to stop a network of cyber-criminals from broadcasting bogus Elon Musk videos in an attempt to defraud viewers.
The fraudsters have taken over YouTube accounts and are exploiting the videos to advertise fake bitcoin giveaways.
Hundreds of thousands of viewers watched hundreds of these feeds over the course of four days this month, according to BBC News.
Elon Musk stated on Tuesday that YouTube does not deal with “scam advertisements.” According to YouTube, channels that have been reported are removed.
Thousands of users have been duped into donating bitcoin to criminals, believing they would receive a gift from Mr Musk, thanks to the broadcasts, which have been going on for months.
One of the most prevalent connections leads to the website https://elon-x2.live/, which encourages visitors to double their money by transferring Bitcoin or Ethereum to the promoted digital-wallet addresses.
Every few days, the hackers alter the names and images of dozens of YouTube channels to make them appear to be official Tesla channels, the electric-car company of which Mr Musk is the CEO.
They may purchase email and password combos from prior data breaches on the internet, or just test popular passwords with known email addresses.
Aisack, a Chilean rapper, had his YouTube channel hacked and hijacked two weeks ago.
“My fans on other social media started asking me what was up with my channel’s name and were perplexed as to why I was streaming Tesla stuff,” he explained.
“It’s quite disheartening that your YouTube channel was hacked after so many years of dedication.
“I feel utterly betrayed and uncomfortable.”
“The hacking of my channel has been extremely detrimental to me, since I am just days away from releasing a new music video, and I am now constructing a backup channel and re-uploading more than ten years of work on YouTube.”
“Because many people are in the same predicament as me, YouTube is not doing enough on security concerns to avoid hacking assaults.”
“We have stringent Community Guidelines forbidding frauds, including impersonation and hacking,” YouTube stated, adding that it has banned one of the channels to which BBC News had informed it.
After spotting a false advertisement on Twitter last year, a guy wanting to quadruple his money gave fraudsters $400,000 in bitcoins.
Scammers have had less success so far this year, according to Whale Alert creator Frank van Weert, but they are still making millions and are ready for a boost if the price of Bitcoin increases.
“The numbers are decreasing compared to 2021,” Mr Van Weert added, “but there are still lots of people falling for it as they change their approaches.”
“Right now, they’re overfishing the water a little bit, especially with Bitcoin values falling, but that will change as long as nothing is done to stop them.”
He noted that the scammers might be prevented if bitcoin exchanges banned their wallets so they couldn’t pay out their stolen funds.
The vast bulk of the false livestreams include Musk and then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on a discussion hosted by finance firm ARK Invest in July.
ARK “is aware of hacked third-party YouTube channels fraudulently posing as ARK,” a spokesman told BBC News.
“These accounts are impersonators who are in no way associated with ARK Invest,” she stated.
“ARK Invest will never solicit money, including bitcoin, on YouTube or other social media platforms.”