SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- For months before a scam co-opting the accounts of several famous people on Twitter was revealed and quickly quashed last week, a similar scheme was being perpetrated on YouTube using images of Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Tesla founder Elon Musk and others, according to a lawsuit filed this week.
Both scams allegedly try to convince others that they can double their money by simply sending cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to the celebrities, while the currency actually goes to scammers, and users get nothing in return.
Wozniak said in a statement released on Wednesday by lawyers representing him and 17 others around the world that YouTube didn't respond to earlier complaints, allowing ineffective algorithms to handle them instead.
This delay caused losses of cryptocurrency equivalent to tens of millions of dollars, and the video platform benefited from the scam by collecting revenue for advertising that appeared with the videos, according to the complaint.
If YouTube had acted quickly to stop this to a reasonable extent, we would not be here now" Wozniak said. "YouTube, like Google, seems to rely on algorithms and no special effort requiring custom software employed quickly in these cases of criminal activity. If a crime is being committed, you MUST be able to reach humans capable of stopping it. What human would see posts like these and not ban them as criminal immediately?"
When Twitter was hit with a massive hack of 130 celebrity accounts, they were quick to shut down the Bitcoin scam in a day," said Joe Cotchett, one of the lawyers representing Wozniak and other fraud victims. "In a stark contrast, the Complaint alleges that YouTube knowingly allowed the Bitcoin scam to go on for months promoted it and profited from it by selling targeted advertising."
In a statement, a spokesperson for YouTube said, "We take abuse of our platform seriously, and take action quickly when we detect violations of our policies, such as scams or impersonation."
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