New Zealand markets closed
  • NZX 50

    12,736.32
    +15.48 (+0.12%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.6975
    +0.0004 (+0.06%)
     
  • NZD/EUR

    0.5919
    +0.0004 (+0.07%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    7,670.90
    +12.00 (+0.16%)
     
  • ASX 200

    7,394.40
    +8.00 (+0.11%)
     
  • OIL

    72.17
    +0.26 (+0.36%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,802.10
    -3.30 (-0.18%)
     
  • NASDAQ

    15,111.79
    +171.63 (+1.15%)
     
  • FTSE

    7,027.58
    +59.28 (+0.85%)
     
  • Dow Jones

    35,061.55
    +238.20 (+0.68%)
     
  • DAX

    15,669.29
    +154.75 (+1.00%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    27,321.98
    -401.86 (-1.45%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    27,548.00
    +159.80 (+0.58%)
     
  • NZD/JPY

    77.0820
    +0.3560 (+0.46%)
     

Scammers promote fake Elon Musk coin on YouTube

·2-min read
Close up of a browser with YouTube.com loaded and Elon Musk
Close up of a browser with YouTube.com loaded and Elon Musk

Criminals are turning to YouTube to target unsuspecting victims with promises of great returns on fake cryptocurrencies.

Scammers are on pace to steal nearly US$1 million from YouTube users by purchasing ad space on cryptocurrency videos to promote a fake SpaceX coin that they fraudulently claim was created by Elon Musk, new research from Tenable has found.

The campaign follows on from an earlier scam where scammers compromised Twitter and YouTube accounts to promote a series of cryptocurrency scams ahead of Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live.

That scam resulted in the criminals stealing over $10 million dollars in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Doge tokens.

Staff research engineer at Tenable, Satnam Narang, said these scams highlight how social media is increasingly being used by scammers as a resource to perpetuate crypto-related fraud.

Scam warning signs

Narang said the ads are three to five minutes long and include a fake tweet from Elon Musk that claims he’s launching his own cryptocurrency called $SpaceX.

Screenshot of fake $SpaceX coin ad on YouTube
The scam features a fake tweet from Elon Musk (Source: Tenable)

Within the same template is a description section, featuring a header with the Tesla logo. The description says “Elon Musk is launching his own cryptocurrency, $SpaceX.”

Screenshot of fake $SpaceX coin ad on YouTube
The ad also claims for each transaction involving the $SpaceX coin, a donation will be made “towards space research companies” (Source: Tenable)

Narag said the scam advertisement claims the purpose of the coin is to “take everyone to Mars and make human life possible there.”

The ad also purports that for each transaction involving the $SpaceX coin, a donation will be made “towards space research companies” in order to “help Elon’s mission.”

“The scammers use various videos of Musk indiscriminately in these YouTube ads,” Narang said.

“These advertisements are hosted on compromised YouTube accounts. When they appear, the name of the user associated with the advertisement is visible.”

Screenshot of fake $SpaceX coin ad on YouTube
Many of the accounts responsible for running the ads are 10 to 12 years old (Source: Tenable)

Narag said when browsing the user’s profile, it will say the user joined YouTube in August, 2011 – so look out for this sign.

“Many of the accounts I encountered were created between 10-12 years ago. In this instance, there are no other videos associated with the account, except for the one used in the scam advertisement, but that may vary,” he said.

“It is likely these are dormant YouTube accounts, which scammers were able to compromise to promote their dodgy advertisements.”

Follow Yahoo Finance on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to the free Fully Briefed daily newsletter.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting