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Daily fraud update: 2nd April

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Image of Bill Gates used in alleged scam

An incident involving the unauthorised use of the image of Microsoft founder Bill Gates has taken place on the video sharing site YouTube.

The famous figure had his image used when a significant number of YouTube accounts were hacked in recent days.

Upon being hacked, the accounts were then renamed to pose as official Microsoft accounts.

Following this, details of what has now widely been discredited as a crypto Ponzi scheme were published.

The aim of the supposed scam appeared to be to use the “crypto giveaway” of crypto scam, in which those affected are encouraged to send a tiny amount of crypto to the hacker on the promise that they’ll get returns.

The adverts were accompanied by text copy persuading people to send their crypto over the web.

“Our marketing department here at Microsoft came up with an idea: to hold a special giveaway event for all cyrpto fans out there. In honor to cryptoenthusiasts and in support of the cryptocurrency market”, the alleged scam copy read.

It also featured a version of the Microsoft logo.

Gates, who has stepped back from leading Microsoft and is now co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was not the only senior figure in the technology world to be affected by the alleged scam.

Brad Garlinghouse, who serves as the CEO of the blockchain-powered on-demand liquidity provider Ripple, also appeared to be in the firing line.

One Twitter user calling themselves “AndySpqr” posted a screenshot of a set of YouTube search results which was topped with one showing Garlinghouse next to the words “50,000,000 XRP GIVEAWAY”.

Crucially, the alleged scam was marked with a yellow notice saying “Ad” – suggesting that the entry had been promoted by whoever was behind it.

“this channel is still up and running and is being funded to be promoted on youtube . Thousands of people most likely have been scammed as a result. This really needs sorted quickly”, the user wrote.

The user also tagged a number of other Twitter accounts, including that of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Garlinghouse later hit out at the alleged scammers, referring to the wider context of the coronavirus.

“Enough is enough – in a time of global crisis, where people are particularly at risk – social platforms must hold criminals (crypto and others) to account to steal money from innocent victims with fake giveaways”, he said.

“My semi-annual PSA: @Ripple and I have never done a giveaway like the scams that keep popping up on @YouTube, @Instagram, @Twitter, etc. Measures need to be taken – more on that soon”, he added.

One crypto press outlet suggested that the Gates incident had led to a significant transfer of value, potentially into the realms of thousands of US dollars, into the alleged hackers’ bitcoin addresses.

Microsoft denied that its verified official Microsoft accounts had been hacked.