According to Tenable, which recently reported on the illicit activity, the scammers behind the sharing of the existing TikTok videos have been gaining millions of views, along with subscriber counts in the tens of thousands.
These types of scams are generally carried out by orchestrators to promote illegitimate/sham retail goods, including supplements for weight loss, to promote adult dating affiliate scams, and to amass a large viewership and subscriber base.
Although YouTube has resided at the top of the streaming service pile for the last sixteen years, its YouTube Shorts platform remains relatively new to the market.
Since being launched in India in 2021, YouTube Shorts has experienced a popularity surge and now receives 3.5 billion views daily – no doubt helped by the country’s decision to ban TikTok.
“Over the last decade, I’ve watched scammers migrate from platform to platform,” stated Tenable’s Satnam Narang, a Staff Research Engineer. “It is almost a rite of passage for a new service or platform when scammers deem them worthy to ply their trade.
“While the way these scams operate will vary based on each platform and its unique nuances, the types of scams are all very familiar.”
The cyber fraudsters have been creating bogus YouTube channels consisting of stolen TikTok content, such as dance challenge-based videos, in order to abuse affiliate marketing strategies implemented by adult dating websites; these companies offer cost-per-action/cost-per-lead payment models.
Fraudsters dupe social media users into visiting YouTube Shorts links pinned at the top of video comment sections; by employing this scam strategy, fraudsters can supposedly turn a decent level of profit, as implied by one of the videos, observed by the researchers, which received 10 million views alone.
The video-stealing scammers can be eligible to earn around $2 to $4 whenever a new adult website visitor becomes a registered user, completing the cycle of a successful cost-per-lead conversion.
Narang continued: “Scammers were also identified using stolen TikTok videos to increase the views and subscriber counts for their existing YouTube channels, to generate an income from advertisements and brand deals from their channels.
“One user has received over 78 million views on their channel, but if you look at a breakdown of their actual content, it’s the videos that they did not create that have the greatest engagement numbers. Many YouTube channels have been created solely as hubs for stolen TikTok content, similarly to gain social currency.”
From an analysis of 50 YouTube channels, Tenable researchers were able to determine that the channel operators have received over 3 billion views spanning over 38,000 videos; at the time of research, the channels collectively held no less than 3 million subscribers.
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