Scammers are increasingly misusing YouTube short videos in the short video format, stealing existing short videos from TikTok and reposting them on the platform to gain millions of views and gain tens of thousands of subscribers, according to new research, published today by Tenable Staff Research Engineer Satnam Narang.
According to the report, these scams usually fall into three categories – adult dating scams, promotion of shady retail products, weight loss supplements, and stealing TikTok videos to increase social currency (views and subscribers).
YouTube Shorts is a relatively new platform that is gaining a large base in India since the ban on TikTok.
According to the report, “After launching YouTube Shorts in India in 2021, the platform has become increasingly popular and now has 3.5 billion views per day.”
Explaining the scams he has observed, Narang said, “Over the past decade, I have watched scammers move from one platform to another. It is almost a rite of passage for a new service or platform when scammers see that they are worthy of their trade. While the way these scams operate will vary Depending on each platform and its unique nuances, the types of scams are all very familiar.”
Scammers were creating fake YouTube channels and flooding them with stolen TikTok videos, including dance challenges, to abuse affiliate marketing strategies used by adult dating sites. These sites offer payment on a cost-per-procedure (CPA) or cost-per-lead (CPL) basis.
“Scammers can generate a relatively healthy income by tricking social media users into clicking the pinned links at the top of comments for their short YouTube videos,” the report explained.
For example, one video alone got 10 million views from short YouTube videos. Once a visitor to an adult dating site is converted into a registered user, the scammer is eligible to receive payments ranging anywhere from $2 to $4 for a successful CPL conversion.
“If there’s one thread in common with all of the research I’ve done on social media over the past decade, it’s that adult dating is at the forefront of scams on emerging platforms and services,” Narang added.
“Introducing YouTube Short, with its massive reach and internal audience, is fertile ground that will only help these scams spread more widely. This trend is worrisome because of how quickly these tactics work on YouTube Short, based on the size of video views and subscribers on these fake channels that promote plagiarized content.”
Narang also identified scammers offering questionable products.
In one case, he identified a number of scammers using stolen TikTok footage of women in the gym in order to promote their $34.99 gym leggings. However, similar leggings were available on AliExpress for $12 less.
“The concern with these deceptive advertisements is that there is no guarantee that an item purchased will arrive, or that the quality is as advertised,” the report said.
Scammers have also been found taking advantage of stolen TikTok videos to increase views and subscribers for their existing YouTube channels, in an effort to generate income from ads and brand deals from their channels.
Narang said, “One user had over 78 million views on their channel, but if you look at the actual content details, it’s the videos they didn’t create that got the most shares. There are also a number of YouTube channels that are created solely as content hubs. stolen TikTok, and likewise to gain social currency.”
Scammers take advantage of subscribers
Based on the analysis of the 50 YouTube channels it encountered, Narang further determined that these channel operators have received 3.2 billion views across at least 38,293 videos. In total, the channels had at least three million subscribers at the time of this research.
“Scammers are able to achieve this success by taking advantage of the novelty of YouTube Short and its existing user base of two billion logins per month,” the report said.
Narang concluded, “The scammers are not going to go easy. They are determined to capitalize on the massive success of platforms like YouTube Shorts and TikTok. Taking advantage of existing functionality within YouTube to report on these channels is really the best way for users to help clean up the platform. That, until they appear The next big social platform and scammers are finally finding their way there.”
January 14 2022