Apple iPhone 14 launch used to hook victims into a crypto scam

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin
A pile of physical coins labelled Bitcoin and Ethereum (Image credit: Shutterstock / Wit Olszewski)

A live stream of an old interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook made its way onto the YouTube front page by masquerading as an official company cryptocurrency event.

As reported by The Verge, cybercriminals used the buzz around Apple’s latest product launches to trick victims into thinking they were watching Tim Cook talking about the current state of Web3, with the end goal of peddling a crypto scam. 

Reaching thousands of viewers who had probably been following the genuine coverage of Apple’s Far Out event, in which new products including the iPhone 14 and the Apple Watch 8 were unveiled, the stream directed viewers to a site soliciting funds from cryptocurrency enthusiasts looking to boost their investment.

Live YouTube crypto scams

The title of the stream, “Apple Event Live. Ceo of Apple Tim Cook: Apple & Metaverse in 2022 [sic]”, as well as a suspicious URL in the video description, may have raised suspicions among discerning viewers, but social media’s role in crypto scams has led to them becoming a billion-dollar market, preying on those without the savvy to identify warning signs.

The Verge also reported on a separate concurrent stream running the exact same playbook, claiming to feature Cook and Elon Musk in conversation about the metaverse. In reality, the feed was a republished version of an online discussion between Musk and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Like the fake crypto stream, it also reached more than 10,000 viewers.

Bad actors hosting YouTube live streams that repurpose interviews with well-known figures in tech are nothing new, going to various lengths to take large quantities of Bitcoin from viewers.

These scams are typically touted as ‘get-rich-quick’ or giveaway schemes and often attempt to piggyback on the reputation of an unsuspecting public figure to lend an air of authenticity.

They can also be perpetrated across the full range of media platforms, appearing in fraudulent ‘sponsored’ ads, as well as other visual content. In April, Facebook’s parent company Meta was hit with a lawsuit in an Australian court after failing to quell the rise of these scams across its services.

To avoid falling for scams like these, web users are advised to think critically about the links they click on while browsing. Consumers should consider investing in a firewall, beyond the basic one provided by their operating system, while business owners should invest in strong endpoint protection to protect their entire network of devices.

Luke Hughes
Staff Writer

 Luke Hughes holds the role of Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro, producing news, features and deals content across topics ranging from computing to cloud services, cybersecurity, data privacy and business software.