Scammers target YouTube shorts, create fake YouTube channels full of stolen TikTok videos: report

Scammers are increasingly abusing YouTube shorts in YouTube’s short video format, stealing existing short videos from TikTok and reposting them on the platform to garner millions of views and earn tens of thousands of subscribers, according to a new study released today by Tenable’s research engineer. Satnam Narang.

According to the report, these scams generally fall into three categories: adult dating affiliate scams, promoting questionable retail products and weight loss supplements, and stealing TikTok videos to increase social currency. (views and number of subscribers).

YouTube Shorts is a relatively new platform that is gaining a large following in India since TikTok was banned.

“After the launch of YouTube Shorts in India in 2021, the platform has become increasingly popular and now has 3.5 billion daily views,” according to the report.

Explaining the scams he has observed, Narang said, “Over the past decade, I have seen scammers migrate from one platform to another. It’s almost a rite of passage for a new service or platform when scammers deem them worthy to ply their trade. Although how these scams work varies with each platform and its unique nuances, the types of scams are all very familiar.

fake chains

Scammers created fake YouTube channels and flooded them with stolen TikTok videos, including dance challenges, to abuse affiliate marketing strategies used by adult dating sites. These sites offer payment based on cost per action (CPA) or cost per lead (CPL).

“Scammers can generate a relatively healthy income by tricking users of social media websites into clicking on links pinned to the top of comments on their short YouTube videos,” the report explains.

For example, a single video generated 10 million views from YouTube shorts. Once the adult dating site visitor converts to a registered user, the scammer is eligible to receive a payment ranging from $2 to $4 for the successful CPL conversion.

“If there’s a common thread running through all the social media research I’ve done over the past decade, it’s that adult dating is at the forefront of online dating scams. booming forms and services,” Narang added.

“The introduction of YouTube Shorts, with its huge potential reach and embedded audience, is fertile ground that will only serve to help these scams spread even further. This trend is alarming due to the rapid success of these tactics on YouTube Shorts, based on the volume of video views and subscribers on these fake channels promoting stolen content,” he said.

Narang also identified scammers offering dubious products.

In one case, he identified a number of scammers using stolen TikTok images of women at the gym to promote gym leggings for $34.99. However, similar leggings were available on AliExpress for $12 less.

“The problem with these fraudulent advertisements is that there is no guarantee that the purchased item will arrive, or that the quality will be as advertised,” the report states.

Scammers have also been discovered exploiting stolen TikTok videos to increase views and subscribers for their existing YouTube channels, aiming to generate revenue from advertisements and branded deals from of their chains.

Narang said, “A user has received over 78 million views on his channel, but if you look at a breakdown of his actual content, it’s the videos he didn’t create that have the most views. There are also a number of YouTube channels that were created purely as hubs for stolen TikTok content, similarly to earn social currency.

Scammers capitalize on subscribers

Based on an analysis of 50 YouTube channels he encountered, Narang further determined that these channel operators received 3.2 billion views across at least 38,293 videos. In total, the channels had at least three million subscribers at the time this research was conducted.

“Scammers are able to achieve this success by capitalizing on the novelty of YouTube Shorts and its existing user base of 2 billion monthly logins,” the report states.

Narang concluded, “The scammers will not go away easily. They are determined to capitalize on the massive success of platforms like YouTube Shorts and TikTok. Leveraging YouTube’s existing features to flag these channels is really the best way for users to help clean up the platform. That is, until the next big social platform emerges and scammers eventually find their way there.

Published on

January 14, 2022

Raymond T. Helms