Thousands of Apple fans were scammed after cybercriminals streamed a parallel video on YouTube purporting to show the iPhone maker’s Far Out launch event. It also featured Apple CEO Time Cook in an interview with broadcaster CNN in 2018.
The video, informally titled “Apple Event Live”, was full of advertisements for cryptocurrency scams. It had links that led to disreputable websites. The advertisements seemed obscure and suspicious. There were banner ads showing Apple is buying 100,000 Bitcoins. Other ads claimed that Apple was investing in Bitcoin, despite the company saying that it hasn’t. However, the fraudsters were able to earn revenue through the clicks generated from the fake live stream, and the false crypto websites.
The video, upon closer examination, showed many flaws that indicated signs of fraudulent activity. It featured a CNN 2018 interview of Tim Cook and Apple & Metaverse in 2022. The video stream had Bitcoin and Ethereum logos. It fraudsters had obscured the CNN logo with the text “Apple Crypto Event 2022”. It had also added a bold text reading “URGENT NEWS” along the bottom of the screen. But the streamers page revealed no official connection with Apple.
The scammer video managed to attract 165,000 users as the hackers manipulated YouTube’s algorithm using relevant keywords, hashtags, and SEO knowledge. A similar scam was reported in 2021 when Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, appeared on Saturday Night Live. Cybercriminals allegedly impersonated him and posted fraudulent giveaways online. Some cryptocurrency users ended up sending funds to unknown accounts with the assurance of receiving back a higher return. Losses amounted to over $2 million, but reports stated that it could have been as much as $5 million.