If you receive a message out of the blue from your favourite YouTuber , make sure you’re wary about it.
A new YouTube scam is spreading, in which subscribers receive messages from fake accounts, offering rewards such as iPhones or gift cards.
The actors behind the scams use a combination of impersonation techniques to make their messages seem legitimate.
Firstly, the fake accounts use the same display avatar and username to that of a famous YouTuber.
For example, a fake James Charles account was discovered by Risk IQ.
Risk IQ said: “Although you can see an obvious difference between the real and imposter accounts above, friend requests within YouTube contain very little information besides the name and avatar image, which as we mentioned above, can be faked.”
The next step in the scam is sending messages from the fake account to unknowing fans.
The message mentions a contest in which the YouTuber is ‘randomly selecting’ a subscriber to give a gift to - such as an iPhone or a gift card. It also includes a scam link for users to claim the prize.
Risk IQ added: “Notice how YouTube’s messaging system also displays the username - in this case, the impersonated name - below the message, further enhancing the credibility of the scam.”
If the user falls for the scam and clicks on the link, they’re taken through to a malicious website, where they’re prompted to provide their name, address, country and email address.
But where the scammers make their money, is through referral links fake surveys, which users then have to complete.
Risk IQ added: “Across the internet, there are many ways criminals drive clicks to their scam links, but one theme persists for this campaign: impersonating famous YouTubers.”