Want to get rich quick in crypto? It won’t be from a Bitcoin giveaway on YouTube.

Michael Saylor, founder of cloud software company MicroStrategy, issued a warning on Twitter this week regarding the rise of AI-powered deepfake scams aimed at stealing cryptocurrency from credulous YouTube viewers.

"There is no risk-free way to double your Bitcoin, and MicroStrategy doesn't give away BTC to those who scan a barcode," Saylor tweeted. "My team takes down about 80 fake AI-generated YouTube videos every day, but the scammers keep launching more. Don't trust, verify," he tweeted.


MicroStrategy, under Saylor's leadership, has become synonymous with Bitcoin, amassing more of the cryptocurrency than any other publicly traded company. It now holds over $8 billion worth of BTC, according to Bitcoin Treasuries.

Saylor's advocacy for Bitcoin's use and adoption has been unwavering, often voicing his support in media interviews—many of which are clipped and redistributed across YouTube. The scam he referred to in his warning is all too common in crypto: fraudsters often impersonate notable figures and trick viewers or social-media followers into sending Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to an unfamiliar address with the promise of receiving more in return.

These scams reached a peak when verified accounts of high-profile individuals like Elon Musk were hacked to disseminate similar fraudulent schemes. In 2020, a teen hacked the Twitter accounts of celebrities like Elon Musk and duped victims out of more than $100,000 worth of bitcoin using fake tweets promising bitcoin rewards.

But scammers have now upped the ante through the use of AI and deepfake tech, making these schemes more difficult to detect. And YouTube seemingly can’t keep up.


Deepfakes and crypto scams

Deepfakes, a form of synthetic media powered by AI algorithms, allow for the creation of convincing fake videos and imagery that depicts events or speech that never actually occurred. As Saylor notes, videos using deepfake technology to impersonate him and other crypto personalities have proliferated on YouTube and social media platforms. These videos aim to convince viewers to send crypto to a provided address under the pretense that they will receive double the amount in return.

Video altering is a common scam in the crypto world, with major social media hacks in the past further demonstrating the technique's potential dangers. Even basic schemes like those using previously recorded podcasts to create deceptive viral content are increasingly being weaponized to perpetrate scams, especially on platforms like YouTube. There, videos featuring major crypto personalities like Elon Musk, Brad Garlinghouse, Michael Saylor, and Vitalik Buterin are fabricated to resemble real-time streams, luring viewers into financial traps, like the one Saylor mentioned.

While platforms like YouTube work to take down AI-generated scam videos, the technology used to create deceptive content continues to improve. Now, video deepfakes, generative video, AI voice cloning and even real time AI translations are possible with just a few clicks.

With crypto criminals getting better at producing convincing fake videos, and AI technology advancing rapidly, it's more important than ever to verify rather than blindly trust unexpected crypto-related offers online. As always, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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