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Fake SpaceX YouTube channel with 36k live viewers scams people out of money (youtube.com)
51 points by ajuc 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments

It always strikes me as odd how prevalent the bitcoin scams are on twitter. Virtually all of Elon Musk's tweets have a very prominently placed "BTC party" scam shown as a high-level reply.

As an example, from his latest non-pinned tweet, the second visible reply is a BTC scam: https://i.imgur.com/ibO94uG.png

How does twitter have such a high tolerance for this?

To boot, I’ve often seen verified accounts (blue-checkmark) promoting these scams, which implies that the scammers have a stable of compromised accounts that they’re using for this activity.

All I can think of when I see this is Jita 4-4 scammers from EVE Online and how it's basically the same playbook just with having to deal with getting new accounts.

> How does twitter have such a high tolerance for this?

There's absolutely no reason for them to care.

These bots increase "growth" and "engagement" and are good for their user numbers.

The damage these bots do doesn't seem to be enough for people to leave the platform and hit their bottom line.

Nothing will change until we have proper regulation that will consider them complicit of such scams and fines them accordingly.

I don't use twitter often, but looking over the UI I don't see any ability to flag tweets - am I missing this or does it not exist in any visible place? Pretty much every other social media (Reddit, Youtube, Facebook) seems to have the ability to flag posts. That would make it much easier for them to identify and remove these kinds of replies. Combine that with no upvote/downvote system and people have no way of pushing down spam.

Click on the caret (dropdown) at the top right of the tweet, then "Report Tweet".

On the associated website they have this gem:

> If the transaction does not process properly, please try by sending the same amount to the BTC address again, and it should go through. Your original transaction will be refunded as you can only participate once.

The Kenyon Review only pays $.05 per word, this definitely seems to be one of the better markets for fiction.

This same group has been taking over ton of channels. It's amazing Youtube hasn't found a way to detect it. Reporting it does nothing as some are STILL up months past reporting.

Also interesting is these scammers are using fake viewers and fake chat messages to make it look more legit.

Seems like it's exploiting a hole in YT's reporting process. I stumbled on a few of these streams last week and tried to report the accounts for "impersonating". However, on the reporting page, you're asked to specify which of the users' videos or comments are violating the rules, but you're not given any option to specify a live stream video. Since the accounts did not post any other videos or comments, there was no content for me to tag.

I submitted the reports anyway and, shortly thereafter, got an email from Youtube telling me "Unfortunately the information you provided in your report to YouTube does not meet our impersonation reporting guidelines." Seems they automatically ignore any reports without tagged videos/comments.

YouTube/Google need to be more aggressive about blocking logins from new locations. The account owners don’t know until subscribers point it out.

I just report as a scam.

They hacked a large food channel that had 133k+ subs. When you go to the cumunity tab you can still see some of the original stuff still being there. (in case it gets removed to https://imgur.com/72nofl0.png)

It asks for bitcoins and promises to pay back (I assume it never happens).

There's a lot of live viewers, probably many bots, but some real people too. It's high in youtube algorithm, I reported it obviously, but it will take a long time.

I reported it as well, it's a sophisticated scam. Look at all the bots in the chat talking about how they got double bitcoins.

More bot viewers means more regular YouTube users who get their interest peaked by xthousand of “people” watching a live SpaceX broadcast.

This scam has been repeated a couple of times. On the weekend they repeated an interview with Chamath Palihapitiya from 2-3 years ago and said it was a "Bitcoin Giveaway" where you got two for one bitcoin. It was hilarious but I never checked to see the transactions that had occurred against the target address.

https://www.blockchain.com/btc/address/1ELonMUSK14JSGNYAcPJN... is the address the BTC was sent to. 2.5 BTC ~= $24k

some of this might be the scammers seeding the address themselves so people see others sending to it?

There are 0 BTC of outgoing transactions. A good Ponzi scammer would payout on small deposits so that the person is convinced to put in a bigger deposit. This was a popular Eve online scam and it was even more fun because the 'victim' sometimes managed to get a payout and exit the scam with a profit.

It also shows it haven't paid anything back, if somebody checks they won't fall for it anyway.


4.08663416 BTC already

Who exactly falls for this kind of scam? I mean, "send us X and you'll get 2X in return" isn't too awfully different than those scams years ago for plans for a perpetual motion machine or the secrets to a 300 mpg car engine.

Ha, I remember one of my brothers and a bunch of people from my hometown got all into those perpetual motion machines. They bought the "plans" and went on and on about how revolutionary it was, what a good deal the few hundred dollars for the plans were, and how there's a global conspiracy by energy companies to stop this information from getting out. Despite trying and never quite getting it to work, I think my brother even today still believes in it.

I guess the answer to your question would be "normal every day folks." But, still, how does the thinking that leads them to believe this stuff even actually work? I don't get it.

People do. My brother's wife's sister's husband's father (yep) flew to Nigeria and gave them a suitcase full of money back in the day 20 years ago. He remains convinced that he will eventually get a huge return.

I was thinking it sounds exactly like the Nigerian 419 scams.

I've seen it because youtube algorithm recommended it to me.

T H I S is the real issue here - YT actively promoting these scams to people, because they've replaced actual people with faulty algorithms...

Occasionally I fall asleep and awake to a channel like this, usually one showing science television content with an extremely active stream of real-time commenters. This gestalt of this channel is nearly identical. Has anyone written up an explanation of these vaguely (or not so vaguely) scammy YouTube channels? Or posted a YouTube video, more likely?

The problem here is that there is absolutely zero incentive for YouTube to fix this.

These bots still contribute to their "growth" and "engagement" and user numbers. Some of them might even be real users being paid to participate, which means YouTube is still showing them ads and profiting off them.

We need proper regulations where platforms should be considered complicit of these scams when they fail to remove such content or outright promote it. As it stands, is is absolutely irresponsible from them to let any new account set up a livestream, boost its popularity with fake viewers and the algorithms will do the rest and start recommending it to real viewers.

I've seen this at least twice before - once with a Microsoft video, another with a Coinbase. (The Coinbase one was quite clever because early on, Coinbase would put a bonus amount in your account when you signed up, so the videos seemed to add a bit of validity). In each case, they use a channel with a lot of subscribers (not sure if they are hacks, or they purchase a channel)

I remember seeing this on youtube (maybe a week ago? same scam, same idea, I'm not sure if it was the same channel) and clicking on it and being like, this is a scam, but a well-targeted one. I was looking to see how it had anything to do with SpaceX and big surprise, that answer was nothing.

Looking through my watch history I can't seem to find it though...

Looks like that address in the video has about ~2.5 BTC received: https://www.blockchain.com/btc/address/1ELonMUSK14JSGNYAcPJN...

Is 4 now, only 30 minutes later...

seems to be some russian guy who calls himself Maxim Sakulevich (from youtube's url https://www.youtube.com/user/MaximSakulevich/community which you'll get by clicking on the 'SpaceX' channel name and on community)... instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maxim_sakulevich/ ... and some blog https://maximsakulevich.blogspot.com/ ... definitely a modern way of making/stealing money

That guy likely is a victim here: Channels get hacked and rebranded for those scams to get an initial subscriber base.

Good point. So who should be responsible? Mr. Sakulevich/channel owners? Youtube/platform provider? Scammer (probably won't take responsibility)? Victims who fail for it? Educating all people (including channel owners and scammers) probably won't work/ won't be fast enough against fast paced internet technology and 'I want to use it now without effort' mentality.

Sometimes the channels are derelict - someone created the account, maybe to leave a comment, then never really used it again. Maybe you could argue that people should be responsible for shutting down unused accounts. I wouldn't agree but that's not unreasonable.

But it is often the case that the owners of these accounts try to get access back from YouTube, to no avail. Several animators I subscribed to had their accounts hacked (maybe poor passwords) and filled with crypto scam nonsense and the process of getting them back was hopeless and took many months of concerted effort from them and their fans.

At that point, though the scammers are of course primarily at fault, I'd also place blame on YouTube for allowing the scam-turned accounts to remain. Protection for user content that is sometimes illegal should cease when a host repeatedly fails to remove that (specific instance of) content in good faith.

Also probably shouldn’t use your real name on any site nevermind YouTube. From that alone we have almost a clear idea of his life, his Instagram page, his children. Very scary stuff. I’d hate to be this public about my own life.

Someone should notify him that his account was hacked.

They ran one with Oprah clips recently too.


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