AI-powered cyberfraud on YouTube from fake SpaceX channel

Make One Deposit and Change Your Life


“I think you all understand the scale of this event and the resources we have mobilized”.

This is just about the only accurate statement made by an uncannily realistic, AI-generated Elon Musk that was otherwise seen by over 500,000 people at the peak of the historic broadcast of today’s SpaceX Starship flight. Or at least what those people thought they were watching.

Fake Elon Musk. Fake Channel. Really fraudulent QR Code. Do NOT scan it.

Scan the QR code and change your life. with this statement I wanna celebrate the launch of the fourth starship. Today’s launch is an important event for all of us.

People could be forgiven for believing the words that appeared to be coming out of “AI Elon Musk”’s mouth, such was the degree of synchronization between the visuals and the life-like voice impersonation.

Scan the qr code and change your life. with this statement I wanna celebrate the launch of the fourth starship. Today’s launch is an important event for all of us.

We are beginning to double your cryptocurrency. Send in your deposit and you will receive double in return in 5 minutes. But let’s step away from cryptocurrency for a moment, I wanna focus on the rocket you see behind me. This breakthrough project brings us closer to realizing the dream of a self-sustaining base on Mars.
Keep an eye on new starship launches and don’t forget about the cryptocurrency doubling!

During the live, legitimate broadcasts from the real Spacex, anyone searching for anything remotely similar to ‘rocket launch’ or ‘spacex live’ would have seen screenfuls of fake broadcasts from fraudulent channels purporting to be the official site.

With hundreds of thousands of live watchers and a branded description that was indistinguishable from the real thing, could you tell the difference?

Just another of the fake SpaceX channels flying under the radar.

All of them showing legions of real or fake watchers, overwhelmed the YouTube search engine and made it difficult for people who were unaware of the subterfuge, to find a legitimate feed.

Would the real SpaceX please stand up

Out of the dozens of clips on my screen, I put together the image below. Can you tell if any of them are legitimate?

Claudiu: which of these is the real Channel? The one with the highest number of subscribers and videos

How could people tell the difference?

Given the voice, accent, tone and likeness of Elon Musk, one could swear that the entire thing was authentic, but pay close attention and you will notice subtle oddities such as:

  1. the AI has real trouble with certain words such as “transparent” “compliance” and even “ethereum”.
  2. the blatant appeal to greed, with urgent prodding to transfer Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Tether (USDT) cryptocurrencies and score a 100% return “within 5 minutes” is a dead giveaway, with the claim itself being illegal, let alone the actual fraud.
  3. the obvious typos in the AI-generated text (see “dubble” at the top of this post) that I covered in a previous blog.

These are all unforced errors easily corrected in future fake videos that will become incrementally difficult to spot, so it’s important for everyone to develop the critical thinking and vigilance to keep up with fraudulent AI development as it evolves.

What other tricks does Fake Elon use?

Aside from the visual and aurally deceptive presentation, the articulation of the scam is worth noting, because very little was left to chance:

  1. It makes the mark feel special with statements like “you will be able to gain access to a SPECIAL website”
  2. It makes you feel safe with “do not fall for tricks. after transitioning to the website you enter a secure space protected by Spacex” and “a support service is available”
  3. It answers your questions before you can even ask them: “why are we doing this? Our main goal is to motivate you to invest in cryptocurrency”
  4. Appeal to authority. A famous person empowers you to dare to dream: “but let’s step away from cryptocurrency for a moment, I wanna focus on the rocket you see behind me. This breakthrough project brings us closer to realizing the dream of a self-sustaining base on Mars.”
  5. It makes an urgent appeal “you can only invest once” and “you will receive double in 5 minutes” but it’s also forgiving and inclusive: “By the way, if you are watching a recording of our live event, you can still participate.”

Isn’t that nice?

Why doesn’t YouTube/Google do more to curb fraud?

Although today’s event was quite the nail-biter, with a lot staking on this flight for SpaceX, it critically targeted a large but select audience. This means any number of such happenings take place on a daily basis, with vast opportunities for AI fraudsters to impersonate recognized brands and defraud their unsuspecting followers before they realize that the images have been doctored and the voices are the product of deepfake exploits.

Practically speaking, here are 3 reasons why YouTube is not eliminating AI fraud on its platform.

  1. It flies under the radar.
    AI is relatively new and it’s a lot easier to create realistic fakes than to create AI that flags realistic fakes as being malicious facsimiles.
  2. It steals and repurposes content.
    The videos available from these fraudulent channels (here, here and definitely here) alternate between pushy cryptoscams and stolen content from the legitimate feeds, making them difficult to confidently mark as being outright fakes.
  3. Eyeballs.
    With multiple millions of channel subscribers and viewers, popularity further skews the probabilistic equations that can unequivocally proclaim the illegitimacy of a given video or channel.

Perhaps most importantly, these fake videos generate enormous amounts of views and traffic from both bot armies and confused humans, which in turn represent substantial income and profit opportunities for the platform.

Occam says this is unlikely to be the first rocket powered by crypto scams

Where does that leave the rest of us?

It bears repeating: stay vigilant and spread the word, but specifically, we can all do something about this type of emerging cyberfraud:

  1. Share this post with your network, or simply a link to my blogs: and its sister site,
  2. Watch your back. Protect yourself from deepfakes by avoiding voiceprint technology, always ensure that support staff properly verify your identity and enable free, annual credit reporting from all the main credit bureaus
  3. Report these videos and channels by clicking the three dots. While downvoting the clips has no effect, the platform does, eventually get around to reviewing reports of “spam or misleading content”, “copyright infringement” and other “legal issues”
Click Report and follow the process to flag scammers and fraudsters on Youtube and Google

For best practices, downloadable tip sheets and free resources you can share with your network of friends and family, run —don’t walk —over to the Knowledgeflow Cybersafety Foundation, where a lovely group of energetic elves continuously updates awesome content for all audiences!



Bad Privacy Blog by Claudiu Popa

Fīat jūstitia, ruat cælum. Personal musings on data protection fails, snafus & oddities, written & edited by Claudiu Popa; author, educator, booknerd.