Scammers impersonating YouTube stars

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

YouTube said Thursday it's working to prevent fraudsters from impersonating some of the video-sharing website's top content creators.

In the scam, fake direct messages purporting to be from such YouTube stars as Philip DeFranco are sent to their subscribers, with instructions to click on a link to win a free prize. DeFranco posted a video on the scheme with an example of a message sent through YouTube's platform that appeared to be from him.

"If you have gotten a message from me or any other creator on YouTube that looks something like this, that is very likely someone trying to scam you," he said in the video.

Massive YouTube Scams, Zoella and Rita Ora Under Fire, Venezuela Uprising, Debt Shame App, & More by Philip DeFranco on YouTube

DeFranco and other YouTube creators are "getting a ton of messages" on the topic, DeFranco added.

Online messages purporting to be from a reputable source are often used in phishing schemes, used to induce people to disclose personal information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers.

Replying to DeFranco's video alert, YouTube in a tweet said it was taking further steps "to prevent impersonation like this." In the meantime, subscribers can block any account spamming them, the platform said.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Subscribers to popular YouTube content providers James Charles, Jeffree Star and Bhad Bhabie also received the phony messages, according to The Verge.

Thanks for reporting on this spam issue! We’re in the process of implementing additional measures to prevent impersonation like this. In the meantime, your subs can protect themselves by blocking any account that is spamming them: https://t.co/uieSAi4k7Z

— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) January 23, 2019

First published on January 24, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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