Scammers pretend to be famous to get money from their fans on TikTok Gifts that can be exchanged for real money Billie Eilish and “The Rock”, among the victims Attracting followers with videos of animals
With more than 1 billion users and strong growth in recent years, TikTok has become the scene of lucrative scams in which anonymous Internet users pose as celebrities and collect thousands of dollars in gifts and donations from the most popular 'fans'. suckers.
It is a relatively simple scam to execute, indicates the EFE news agency: the scammer takes a live video made by a celebrity, either on TikTok or on other portals such as Instagram, and reproduces it on his own channel in which he pretends to be that person and asks his followers for donations.
"They are very ingenious and very skilled," says cybersecurity expert Satnam Narang, who works as a security engineer for the firm Tenable and is responsible for the investigation that has unmasked this type of scam, in an interview with EFE.
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The way scammers turn their deception into a lucrative activity is by asking their victims to send them virtual gifts, which they can then redeem for real money following TikTok policy.
It is quite common for TikTok artists and celebrities to ask their followers for virtual gifts, explains EFE, and in return they offer them privileged access, such as a private conversation or participating live in the video that is being broadcast.
“The best example I can think of is a TikTok scammer who posed as singer Billie Eilish through a stolen Instagram video and many people sent her gifts asking them to appear alongside her on live. . Of course, no one was chosen," says Narang.
This type of scam, which the Tenable investigator has been following since April of this year, basically has two groups of victims.
In the first place, users who pay these virtual gifts with real money and not only receive nothing in return but are also being sent to a person other than the one they believe.
Secondly, the artists and celebrities themselves are also victims, who see how their identity is supplanted and taken advantage of so that third parties profit in their name without them receiving a single penny.
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In addition to Eilish, Narang also identified actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and influencer Charli D'Amelio as other high-profile victims of this scam, along with thousands of other lower-profile content creators.
Scammers also use the stolen videos and the attention they generate to promote dubious products and links to adult dating websites, two other sources of revenue from pretending to be someone they're not.
The main hurdle that scammers have to overcome is that TikTok does not allow you to broadcast live video unless you have 1,000 or more followers.
Narang has identified the strategy that they follow to achieve that goal, says EFE: the publication of videos of animals with some deficiency or that have suffered abuse, which directly appeal to the emotion of the viewer and that go viral very easily.
"For me this is what makes it even more disgusting: they use videos of these poor animals to gain followers and, once they reach 1,000, scam those same followers," lamented the researcher.
To avoid being a victim of a scam of this type, it is advisable if the user has the name of the star they claim to be, if the account is verified by TikTok, if they have more videos published (an account without videos is a sign of a possible scam). and if the video is streaming in good quality.
With information from the EFE news agency.
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