Elon Musk DeepFakes peddle crypto scams on YouTube

A five-hour YouTube Live broadcast featuring a deepfake of Musk promoted a cryptocurrency scam today, continuing a recent trend of similar fraudulent streams.

According to a June 23 Engadget report, the now-removed video purported to show a live Tesla event, using an AI-generated version of Musk's voice to lure viewers to a website. The fake Musk urged viewers to deposit Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) or Dogecoin (DOGE) for a supposed giveaway, promising to “automatically send back double the amount.”

The stream attracted over 30,000 viewers at its peak, though bot inflation cannot be ruled out. It topped YouTube's Live Now recommendations. The channel, @elon.teslastream, bore the Official Artist Channel verification badge, suggesting a possible account compromise.

YouTube removed both the video and channel after Engadget's inquiry to Google. This incident is part of a recent surge in deepfake scams, typically impersonating his companies.

The video was titled “Tesla's [sic] unveils a masterpiece: The Tesla that will change the car industry forever.” Earlier in June, Cointelegraph reported on 35 accounts posing as SpaceX running similar scams during the Starship launch.

An ongoing trend

April saw scammers attempting to capitalize on eclipse enthusiasm using the same tactic, as reported by Mashable. Cryptocurrency scams targeting Musk's followers on social media have been an ongoing issue, as have those involving celebrities generally.

Recently, 50 Cent's social media accounts were hacked to promote a pump-and-dump scheme. Tesla's CEO is particularly popular as a target for celebrity fake scam promotion given his relevance to the cryptocurrency space.

Musk's relevancy to crypto primarily stems from his influential social media presence and his companies' involvement with digital currencies. As the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk's public statements about cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin and Dogecoin, have frequently caused significant market movements.

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