Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is suing YouTube and their parent company Google for allegedly allowing bitcoin giveaway scams. The scams use his name and likeness to thrive on the video sharing platform.
Wozniak filed a lawsuit which states that scammers have been posting videos on YouTube claiming that Wozniak is hosting a bitcoin promotion. He seeks punitive damages, a trial by jury and demands YouTube to remove all bitcoin giveaway scams and promotions videos using his name and likeness.
“YouTube has featured a steady stream of scam videos and promotions that falsely use images and videos of Plaintiff Steve Wozniak, and other famous tech entrepreneurs, and that have defrauded YouTube users out of millions of dollars,” the lawsuit reads.
Besides Wozniak, there are also videos using the likeness of other tech leaders as well, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and financial self-help guru Robert Kiyosaki. Wozniak and 17 other plaintiffs allege that YouTube is aware of these scams but has not taken the videos down.
“As a result of defendants’ egregious failures to act and affirmative misconduct in promoting this criminal enterprise, Plaintiff Wozniak has suffered, and continues to suffer, irreparable harm to his reputation, and YouTube users, including plaintiffs, have been defrauded out of millions of dollars. Among other relief, Plaintiffs seek an order requiring YouTube to finally end its outrageous practice of hosting, promoting, and profiting from these criminally fraudulent videos and promotions,” reads the lawsuit.
“We take abuse of our platform seriously, and take action quickly when we detect violations of our policies, such as scams or impersonation,” said a YouTube spokesperson.
Previously, we’ve reported on how multiple high-profile verified Twitter accounts were compromised in an unprecedented Twitter attack—which affected big name brands like Apple and Uber, as well as high-profile individuals including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Kanye West, and Jeff Bezos.
These compromised Twitter accounts were sharing similar messages promising to “double your bitcoin” if you transfer some to a particular wallet address. The scam is believed to have earned its creators nearly USD120,000. However, the Youtube scam, while also targeting bitcoin owners, doesn’t appear to involve compromised account information.
There are also scams on Facebook of fake KFC pages that say they are giving free “KFC stay home food vouchers” if you fill up a questionnaire. After completing the questionnaire, you’ll be directed to a page where it will request for additional information such as your name, email and mobile number for possible scam activities or unsolicited marketing.
Ads for platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook have to go through an approval process before it is allowed to run. With these measures in place, the platforms have a responsibility to vet through advertisers and to ensure that these are genuine ads.
It seems that anyone can create fake KFC Facebook pages and run paid ads to collect information from unsuspecting victims. Although there’s a feature to report fake ads, it doesn’t seem like Facebook has yet to put a more rigorous process to flag ads by newly created pages—especially when it involves names of popular brands and personalities.