Tens of Thousands of Viewers Watched Fake Apple Crypto Scam on YouTube

Someone on YouTube was live-streaming an old Tim Cook interview that was apparently used to draw attention to a crypto scam – and when it was live, tens of thousands of viewers tuned in.

If you have ever seen crypto scams on YouTube, you would have recognized many features of what was going on. The fake live stream was attracting attention by filling its description with an array of Apple keywords in the title and description. But when you actually opened it, it was filled with weird messages linking to a dodgy-looking crypto site.

The feed showed many signs of fake. It had a weird title – “Apple Event Live. Apple CEO Tim Cook: Apple & Metaverse in 2022.” – and it showed an old interview that CNN conducted with Cook in 2018. The streamer added Bitcoin and Ethereum logos to the video feed, covered the CNN Money logo with the text “Apple Crypto Event 2022” and added bold text that says “URGENT NEWS” at the bottom. And if you actually clicked on the channel’s page (which claimed to be “Apple LIVE”), the URL had nothing to do with Apple. This could suggest that the channel had a different purpose at some point, but was hijacked by bad actors and used to host the stream.

YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shortly after this story was published, the stream was removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.

While the fake live stream was clearly not from Apple, it was happening while the company was in the spotlight. Apple broadcast its big iPhone 14 announcement event a few hours ago, and CEO Tim Cook is currently being interviewed at Vox Media’s Code conference tonight. This misleading stream appeared to be an attempt to fool people who may know Apple is having a great day but don’t know exactly what is going on.

I stumbled upon this stream because it was recommended on my YouTube homepage — maybe that’s partly because I watched Apple videos of the event throughout the day. When I started watching the fake stream, there were around 16,000 viewers, and just before this story was first published, that number was close to 70,000.

The edge also found a live stream on a separate (and also sketchy) channel claiming it was “Apple Inc” [sic]. The stream was supposed to be an event featuring Cook and Tesla CEO Elon Musk about Apple and the Metaverse, but it was actually redirected an interview about bitcoin with Musk and Block frontman Jack Dorsey. It saw stream numbers reach over 10,000 viewers, and also linked to a sketchy crypto site in the chat. It was also removed.

Updated September 7, 10:54 p.m. ET: YouTube has removed live streams.

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