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  • Writer's pictureT Skevington and M Bacina

Celebrities sue Youtube over clickbait giveaway scams - what happens next will SHOCK you

Updated: May 2

"[Random celebrity]'s investment secret has Big Banks terrified" - words that anyone who has googled "Bitcoin" more than once and spend a few hours a day on the internet will be intimately familiar with.

Recently, this kind of scam has been proliferating wildly on Youtube, with a reasonably sophisticated trap using familiar local celebrities. Members of our team (including the writers) have been inundated with Youtube advertisements claiming that tech entrepreneur Dick Smith is offering to double my Bitcoin, or that Andrew "Twiggy" Forest is dying to tell me the secret to making millions with Bitcoin, in a similar format to the thumbnail image.

The scam appears to be replicating faster than Youtube can wield their ban-hammer, which has led to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and 17 other individuals who are featured in the scam to file a complaint in the California Superior Court in the County of San Mateo.

Wozniak and his co-plaintiffs are accusing YouTube and Google of violating their rights of publicity, misappropriating their names and likenesses, as well as aiding and abetting fraud and a negligent failure to warn users of the scam by not taking enough steps to remove the scam.

At paragraph 77 of the complaint, Wozniak's lawyers claim that:

there is no doubt that Youtube knows about the Bitcoin giveaway scam and that the scam videos and promotions are flagrantly violating Wozniak’s right to publicity and defrauding Youtube's users, yet Youtube has consistently failed or refused to intervene in a timely manner, to stop contributing to the scam, and to stop selling ads for the scam videos and promotions.

The complaint is seeking a jury trial (as is almost always requested in the US), and for damages including the plaintiff's legal expenses, and any gains, profits, or advantages wrongfully obtained by Defendants as a result of allowing the scams to be hosted on Youtube.

The proliferation of these Youtube crypto scams comes hot on the heels of the recent mass Twitter security breach featuring a similar scam. Since news of that scam broke, digital asset exchanges have revealed that the damage would have been far worse but for the early intervention of those exchanges and blockchain analysis companies like Chainalysis, Elliptic and Merkle Science.

By way of an example, Coinbase says it prevented over 1,000 customers from sending around USD$280,000 worth of bitcoin to the attacker's wallet address. According to Coinbase:

We noticed the scam and began blocking transactions within a couple of minutes of the initial wave of scam posts

Another great example of digital currency businesses using the unique characteristics of blockchain to identify and prevent financial crime and scams in real time. And until Youtube gets their act together concerning these scam videos, just remember that Dick Smith is on to them and posting about it too now.


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