Fake SpaceX cryptocurrency scam in YouTube ads steals nearly $1M

June 24, 2021
Scammers have leveraged the decentralized finance protocol Uniswap, the Metamask wallet extension and legitimate YouTube ads promoting the phony SpaceX cryptocurrency campaign to steal nearly $1 million, with two completed campaigns yielding over $430,000 and a third campaign still ongoing, according to Tenable research reported by Threatpost.

Tenable reported that scammers have been running the ads, which are nearly three to five minutes in length, since the end of last month. All the ads featured a fake tweet from SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk stating that he will unveil his own cryptocurrency dubbed "$SpaceX," which seeks to fund Musk's purported mission to "take everyone to Mars and make human life possible there."

"The reason this particular campaign stands out is that it didn’t rely on promotion through Telegram channels or social media, but it rode the wave of success scammers have found through YouTube. It did so by leveraging the existing infrastructure of YouTube Ads to identify their target demographic of cryptocurrency enthusiasts and get their ads in front of thousands of viewers. Many new cryptocurrency investors look to YouTube channels for news and guidance, so it’s an ideal channel for promoting a fake coin," said Tenable researcher Satnam Marang.
Jill Aitoro

SC Media Editor in Chief Jill Aitoro has 20 years of experience editing and reporting on technology, business and policy. She also serves as editorial director at SC Media’s parent company, CyberRisk Alliance. Prior to joining CRA, she worked at Sightline Media as editor of Defense News and executive editor of the Business-to-Government Group. She previously worked at Washington Business Journal and Nextgov, covering federal technology, contracting and policy, as well as CMP Media’s VARBusiness and CRN and Penton Media’s iSeries News.

prestitial ad