Fake Apple crypto scam on YouTube attracts tens of thousands of viewers

Someone on YouTube is currently live-streaming an old interview with Tim Cook that is ostensibly being used to draw attention to a crypto scam – and tens of thousands of viewers have tuned in to this.

If you’ve seen crypto scams on YouTube before, you’ll recognize many features of what’s going on here. The fake live stream gets attention by filling the description with a series of Apple keywords in both the title and description. But when you actually open it, it is full of strange messages linking to a shady crypto site.

The stream has many signs that it is fake. It has an odd title: “Apple Event Live. Apple CEO Tim Cook: Apple & Metaverse in 2022.” — and it shows an old interview CNN did with Cook in 2018. The streamer added the Bitcoin and Ethereum logos to the video stream, covered the CNN Money logo that reads “Apple Crypto Event 2022” and added bold text “URGENT NEWS” at the bottom. And if you actually click on the channel page (which claims to be “Apple LIVE”), the URL has nothing to do with Apple. That could indicate that the channel had a different purpose at one point, but was hijacked by bad actors and used to host the stream.

While this fake live stream is clearly not really Apple’s, it happens when a big spotlight is on the company. Apple streamed its big iPhone 14 announcement event hours ago, and CEO Tim Cook is currently being interviewed at Vox Media’s Code conference tonight. This deceptive stream appears to be an attempt to mislead people who may know Apple is having a big day but aren’t quite sure what’s going on.

I stumbled upon this stream because it was recommended on my YouTube homepage – that may have been partly because I spent all day watching Apple videos from the event. When I first started watching the fake stream, there were about 16K viewers, and right before I published this story, that number was close to 70K.

The edge also found a livestream on a separate (and also vague) channel claiming to be “Apple Inc” [sic]. The stream claims to be an event with Cook and Tesla CEO Elon Musk about Apple and the metaverse, but it’s actually a recast of an interview about Bitcoin with Musk and Block leader Jack Dorsey. It has seen stream songs reach over 10,000 viewers, and has also been linked to a sketchy-looking crypto site in the chat.

YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.