For two months, there has been a new wave of a very serious scam taking over YouTube.

These Bitcoin giveaway scams claim that celebrities are giving away bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The videos advertises that the more bitcoin you send, the more bitcoin you will get back, emphasizing that “You can participate only once.” For example, the scammers claim that if you send 1 bitcoins, you will get 2 bitcoins back.

What makes it terrible and different from other scams is that it sometimes looks very legit!

A lot of people, even the most careful, are trapped.

Here are the reasons why this scam is particularly aggressive.

Let’s say you sometimes watch videos about Steve Wozniak, Apple’s cofounder; Robert Kiyosaki, the author of the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad“; or Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX. YouTube’s algorithm will therefore encourage you to view videos related to these people.

Live events are particularly appreciated by YouTube’s algorithm and are often pushed forward to the top of your watchlist. Sometimes YouTube even forces you to watch videos with the “autoplay” function.

The problem is that YouTube will push forward fake live videos prepared by scammers.

These scammers take advantage of highly sensational and emotional real-life events that have recently taken place.

For example, at the Bitcoin Halving event that took place on May 11th, 2020, we could watch supposedly live interviews of Robert Kiyosaki or Steve Wozniak offering a BTC Giveaway to encourage the global use of cryptocurrencies.

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Connoisseurs and the crypto-currency community are particularly attached to this event that takes place every four years. It is an event by which the remuneration of Bitcoin miners has been halved. Bitcoin miners are people or companies that use a large amount of computing power to solve complex calculations in order to run the Bitcoin transaction validation network. This event is very popular because it occurs only once very 4 years and different economic theories predict that this event will result in a significant increase in the value of Bitcoin.

Therefore, on that night, it was quite common for people who had watched related live events from reliable sources to be offered by YouTube to watch “fake” live events prepared by scammers.

Given the highly emotional state the victim is in (the halving event can easily be compared to New Year’s Eve but perhaps with even more adrenaline in connection with the financial stakes of a potentially exponential increase in the price of Bitcoin), these people are the most likely to be fooled, even though they have never been victims of an internet scam before.

What made the scam even more realistic is that the scammers used celebrities who had already publicly spoken out in favor of Bitcoin. Therefore, holding a fake contest to spread the word about it was very believable.

Another example is the recent launch of the crewed SpaceX rocket.

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After the event, scammers broadcasted a fake live interview of Elon Musk following the launch, which offered the same type of Bitcoin giveaway contest.

Once again, the scammers relied heavily on the emotion of such an important event.

Unlike in traditional bank transactions, victims cannot ask their banks to cancel transactions that occur on the blockchain or obtain any kind of compensation.

Some services, such as Coinfirm, offer a Crypto Reclaim service that allows you to open a case.

However, this type of criminal offense is new, and given the way blockchain works, the chances of success in recovering an amount stolen in this way are limited.

It is gratifying to see that services are being set up to help victims so that they do not feel that they are faced with the void of the blockchain, whose rules prohibit any cancellation of transactions.

If you or one of your friends has been taken in by such scams, the Swiss law firm Naray Law has set up a telegram victim support group.

You can subscribe to it using this link.


Update 21/12/2020:

Here is a list of similar scams:

Kiyosaki on YouTube live event scam
Wozniak on YouTube live event scam
Elon Musk / SpaceX live event scam
Tim Cook Giveaway live event scam
Brian Armstrong / Coinbase live event scam
Chamath Palihapitiya live event scam
Michael Bloomberg live event scam
Walmart live event scam
Winklevoss twins scam


Alex Naray is an attorney-at-law and entrepreneur from Geneva, Switzerland. He is the founder of the law firm Naray.Law. He has over 10 years of experience as a Swiss lawyer and has founded, advised and managed numerous startup-ups, mainly active in new technologies. He focuses his practice primarily on Swiss and international tax law, commercial law and corporate law.