Google Pixel 7 launch hit by crypto scam using Google CEO Sundar Pichai
This ongoing Google Pixel 7 'live stream' is really a sneaky crypto scam on Google-owned YouTube using Google CEO Sundar Pichai – hundreds of thousands have watched it
Update: While Google removed the scam YouTube video posing at the Pixel 7 launch event, another popped up on the hacked account of a young South Korean woman (with over 100,000 subscribers and 10,000 people watching concurrently). This won’t be pretty if it remains online during the actual launch event in a few hours.
The Made by Google event is today, October 7 at 10am ET, and we’ll learn about the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro as well as the first-ever Google Pixel Watch (and I’ll bring you a post-event hands-on). But if you were to search Google-owned YouTube right now, you might think the launch event live stream is happening a few hours early.
Above is what the fake Pixel 7 launch live stream video in question looks like and you can see how it has a QR code and links (redacted by me) to a crypto scam website.
The new video had another 13,000 people watching concurrently.
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At times, there have been over 16,000 concurrent streamers (meaning hundreds of thousands over the course of more than ten hours) watching a “live video” by the legit-sounding account “Made By Google” (no, it’s not really Google and I won’t link to it). It seems very real too: it has none other than Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai explaining Google’s technology roadmap.
It’s been running for more than 10 hours in a continuous loop, promoting a crypto scam – seemingly fronted by Pichai – to hundreds of thousands of users.
It’s really Sundar Pichai, but the video isn’t live – it’s actually from January 2021 taken from the annual World Economic Forum event in Davos, Switzerland. It’s been running for more than 10 hours in a continuous loop, promoting a crypto scam – seemingly fronted by Pichai – to hundreds of thousands of users. Update: Google took this original scam video down only for another to pop up (same video, same Made by Google account display name, but using the hacked account of a young South Korean woman who is pouring her heart out on Instagram about losing her account).
Clever scheme using Google’s own platform
Both the live chat to the side of the “live” video and a scannable QR code embedded in the video point users to a legit-sounding “World Event Tech” URL (no, I won’t link it directly), touting a cryptocurrency giveaway seemingly from Pichai himself.
Cleverly, the live chat on the YouTube video requires being a subscriber of this spoofed “Made By Google” channel… for “15 years or longer” (which is impossible given the fact that it’s a new fake YouTube channel). Also, privacy measures like turning off comments and disabling downvotes – which would normally signal to others that this is a scam – are working against Google and its visitors. Oof.
The fake Google “giveaway” website is fairly intricate. It has Google logos, a headshot of Pichai and, in big bold letters, says “Biggest Giveaway Google of $10 000 000” – a bit of broken English that hopefully sends potential victiums in the other direction.
The giveaway suggests that it’s open to anyone with a “working wallet” and asks users to “send the allowed number of coins to a special address below” to double their Ethereum or Bitcoin. There’s also a money doubling calculator in case you want an example of how much money you’d get back (but ultimately lose entirely).
Naturally, all of that sounds like a bad idea – it’s a scam. Although the giveaway says it’ll send twice as many funds back to your wallet (don’t hold your breath), there’s a fee attached to this money doubling scheme (but expect to lose everything).
To do my journalistic duty, I questioned the the pop-up Chat Support, which has an on-point Bored Ape profile photo: “Is this a scam?”
Their reply? “Good day! Official event!”
I’ve reached out to actual Google for comment – and to warn them about the scam.
The awful irony for Google
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this same “live stream” scheme with a QR code embedded in a looped video. Months ago, when Dave Chappelle was trending in the news, a similar scam took place by streaming an old Breakfast Club radio interview with the comedian. Lots of people wanted to see what he had to say at the time and, in the process, may have been lured into the embedded crypto scheme.
Without proper moderation (more than ten hours running), this kind of brings new meaning to the phrase “Made by Google.”
But now, Google’s own event… on its own platform… is scamming Google users… using the CEO of Google. Without proper moderation (more than ten hours running), this kind of brings new meaning to the phrase “Made by Google.”
Thanks for staying subscribed. I’ll have Google Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch coverage tomorrow and a hands-on soon (unless I get banned)