Data Breach News

Crypto Scammers Hijack Channel 7 News Australia’s YouTube Account

The hackers ran a deepfake live stream of Elon Musk on loop where the business tycoon was seen asking users to scan a QR and invest through cryptocurrency.

by Mihir Bagwe June 27, 2024

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Crypto scammers hijacked Channel 7 News Australia’s YouTube account to run a live stream of an Elon Musk deepfake on loop. The AI-generated version of the business tycoon was seen luring users to scan a QR code and invest in a money-doubling scheme through cryptocurrency.

The news and media company is investigating claims even as traces of account takeover persist at the time this article was published.

Crypto Scammers Shift to Deepfake Deployment

Crypto scammers hijacking social media accounts of popular brands and celebrities on platforms like YouTube and X is not a novel thing. But what transpired on Thursday could very well be a snippet of things to come as we move towards the Age of AI.

Crypto scammers first took over the YouTube account of Channel 7 News and modified it in a way that it masqueraded the official Tesla channel.

Hijacked Channel 7 News’ YouTube Account Screenshot (Source: Reddit)

After making aesthetic changes to the YouTube account, the crypto scammers replaced the videos in the channel with a deepfake live stream of Tesla chief Elon Musk. The AI-generated Musk was seen encouraging viewers to scan a QR code and invest in cryptocurrency.

Musk’s Deepfake Asking Users to Scan or Regret (Source: Reddit)

As per local media, the Musk deepfake said, “All you need to do is scan the QR code on the screen, go to the website and watch your cryptocurrency double. Today’s event is a chance for all crypto enthusiasts and users to double their assets.”

“This is an opportunity that cannot be missed.” – Elon Musk Deepfake

The deepfake video was made in a way that Musk’s AI version even interacted with the audience, where he continued to say that twice as much would return to investors’ wallets.

The Channel 7 News has several region- and programming-specific YouTube channels, and most of them seemed to be hijacked at present, with all of them running the same deepfake live stream on loop.

The page is no longer accessible via direct links from the company website, but as pointed by a Reddit user, if you go to the YouTube channel via the platform’s search, it still displays the changes made by crypto scammers, which is a Tesla logo as seen in the images above.

Experts, Leaders Press for Deep Fake Regulations

Owing to the menace of deepfakes, nearly 1,500 AI and tech experts in February urged global regulation of deepfakes to curb risks like fraud and political disinformation. An open letter recommends that lawmakers criminalize deepfake child pornography, penalize creators and facilitators of harmful deepfakes, and hold software developers accountable.

“The whole deepfake supply chain should be held accountable, just as they are for malware and child pornography.” The Open Letter

Legal experts and technologists have also previously urged the U.S. Congress to regulate the use of deepfake technologies and provide new protections particularly for women and minority communities against the use of digitally manipulated media. Experts warned that the deceptive content is already affecting national security, personal privacy and public trust.


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