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Major Australian News Broadcaster’s YouTube Channel Hijacked by Crypto Scammers

ByDayne Lee

Jun 29, 2024

Major Australian News Broadcaster’s YouTube Channel Hijacked by Crypto Scammers

The YouTube channel of Seven Network, a leading Australian broadcaster, was compromised by cryptocurrency scammers, showcasing deepfake videos of Elon Musk promoting a crypto giveaway scam. The channel, known for delivering reputable news, was temporarily transformed to mimic Tesla’s branding, complete with AI-generated clips of its CEO, Musk, falsely claiming to double any cryptocurrency sent to a specified address.

The scammers utilized sophisticated artificial intelligence techniques to create a convincing likeness of Elon Musk speaking about lucrative crypto opportunities. They promised viewers that any crypto sent to their address would be returned in double the amount, a classic scam tactic known as a “double-your-money” scheme. At the height of the scam, approximately 150,000 viewers were watching three livestreams featuring the fake Musk, although it is unclear how many of these viewers were real people as opposed to bots used to inflate viewership numbers.

Response from Seven Network

A spokesperson from Seven Network addressed the situation in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald, confirming that several of the broadcaster’s YouTube channels were displaying abnormal behavior. The company swiftly began investigations and collaborated with YouTube to rectify the issue and restore the channel’s integrity.

YouTube’s Involvement

As of the last update, YouTube had not yet responded to inquiries regarding the incident. The platform typically takes swift action against such violations, but the immediate response and specific measures taken are yet to be disclosed publicly.

The scam directed potential victims to a website where they could send Bitcoin, Ether, Solana, and Dogecoin to the scammer’s addresses. Collectively, these addresses amassed just over $11,000. The use of a high-profile public figure like Musk in such scams underscores the ongoing issue of fraudulent schemes within the cryptocurrency space, exploiting the credibility and widespread recognition of such individuals.

Similar Incidents and Regulatory Actions

This incident is part of a larger trend where scammers use deepfake technology to create realistic videos of well-known figures endorsing cryptocurrencies. For instance, more than 35 YouTube livestreams featured fake Musks during the SpaceX Starship rocket launch earlier this month. Additionally, Hong Kong’s securities regulator recently shut down a firm that used AI-faked videos of Musk to promote a non-existent AI crypto trading service.

The hijacking occurred during a tumultuous week for Seven Network’s parent company, Seven West Media, which announced the reduction of 150 jobs, impacting some marketing roles, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian on June 24.

Affected ChannelSeven Network’s YouTube
Fake Identity UsedElon Musk (deepfake)
Promised ScamDouble-your-money crypto giveaway
Crypto Currencies InvolvedBitcoin, Ether, Solana, Dogecoin
Total Amount CollectedApproximately $11,000
Viewer Count at Peak150,000 (unknown number of real viewers)
Official ResponseSeven Network collaborating with YouTube

The exploitation of a major news broadcaster’s YouTube channel highlights the sophisticated methods employed by cybercriminals in the cryptocurrency space. This incident not only stresses the need for enhanced security measures on digital platforms but also serves as a stark reminder for viewers to remain vigilant and skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers, especially those involving high-profile personalities and financial transactions.

Featured image credit: master1305 via Freepik

Dayne Lee

With a foundation in financial day trading, I transitioned to my current role as an editor, where I prioritize accuracy and reader engagement in our content. I excel in collaborating with writers to ensure top-quality news coverage. This shift from finance to journalism has been both challenging and rewarding, driving my commitment to editorial excellence.

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