They thought Mr. Beast was giving them money. Instead, they were deceived

They thought Mr. Beast was giving them money.  Instead, they were deceived
MR-BEAST-SCAMMERS-FINALa3.jpg MR-BEAST-SCAMMERS-FINALa3 - Credit: Photo illustration by Griffin Lotz.  Images in Illustration by Michael Tran/AFP/Getty Images;  Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic;  Philip Varone / Getty Images;  Christopher Polk/Variety/Getty Images;  Steve Granitz/FilmMagic, 2

MR-BEAST-SCAMMERS-FINALa3.jpg MR-BEAST-SCAMMERS-FINALa3 – Credit: Photo illustration by Griffin Lotz. Images in Illustration by Michael Tran/AFP/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Philip Varone / Getty Images; Christopher Polk/Variety/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic, 2

When Austin, 26, He was in his final year of college, and was in a precarious financial situation. He just left and was living on his own for the first time, and his part-time job as a social media manager wasn’t paying much.

Austin, who asked that his last name be withheld, said: Rolling Stone. “Just to give me a break instead of constantly feeling like every paycheck is up.”

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That’s when he came across an ad on the YouTube app that he thought might solve all his problems. It was from a channel called MrBeast Promos and featured their logo MrBeast, AKA Jimmy Donaldson, a very popular YouTuber known for generous cash giveaways, and the ad offered a chance to win a $1,000 gift card. Austin wasn’t a huge fan of MrBeast, but he was familiar enough with its content and branding for the ad to feel authentic. “He gives crazy gifts all the time and has a lot of money,” says Austin. “That was all my brain needed to be like, OK, let’s run with this.”

After Austin clicked on the ad, he quickly realized something wasn’t right. He was instructed to download two banking apps, both of which are on the Google Play Store, but required him to enter personal information such as his Social Security number. By the time he started downloading the second app, he had gone into a panic. “I think I’m pretty tech-savvy,” he says. “But I immediately began to stress out.” He realized that he might have fallen in love with him Referral scamIt is a common tactic used by scammers to get people to sign up for various programs so they can get rid of referral fees. He immediately freezes all of his credit cards, downloads an app to help keep track of his balance, and monitors his bank account to see if anything happens.

Aside from the embarrassment of opening up about the possibility of being scammed, Austin never experienced any financial repercussions from clicking the ad. But it created weeks of unnecessary stress for him, and although he reported the ad on YouTube, he’s since seen several spin-off versions of it on the platform. He wouldn’t be surprised if others clicked on it, too; After all, he says, MrBeast’s brand as a philanthropist making massive amounts of money online is the main reason he found his credibility in the first place.

In fact, Austin isn’t the only person who has this reaction. MrBeast-related scams are proliferating across the internet – primarily on YouTube, where there are dozens of unlisted channels using the MrBeast name, but also on Facebook and TikTok. Although MrBeast Promos, specifically, appears to no longer be on the platform, YouTube continues to recommend ads to users who are not affiliated with the YouTuber, which are largely posted by unlisted channels and which in some cases have amassed tens of thousands of subscribers. subscribers.

“This is clearly a scam using the name MrBeast,” someone recently wrote on Reddit, posting a screenshot of an unlisted channel claiming to be associated with MrBeast. (The channel is no longer on the platform.) “I’ve seen a lot, some even as ads, so why isn’t YouTube doing anything about it?”

In response to a request for comment from rolling Stone, In addition to a partial list of ads found in our investigation, a YouTube spokesperson said: “We have strict policies in place to protect our users from scams, and our enforcement teams regularly monitor ads across YouTube to ensure that bad actors don’t scam users, including about The way to impersonate celebrities. In accordance with our policies, we have closed several channels and continue to monitor and remove infringing advertisements.

Although a representative for Mr. Beast did not respond to a request for comment, Donaldson himself has spoken out about the scams several times, urging fans to be careful. “Hey guys quick, there are many accounts, pages and groups out there trying to impersonate me and my team,” Donaldson books in 2019 on his verified Facebook page. “Please know that we will never comment, private message you, or send you a friend request asking you to claim a gift, prize, etc… These are all scams.” Earlier this year, he, too named outside of YouTube for hosting unsolicited comments in the comment sections of videos, saying he “(hates) it with a passion”.

Scammers impersonating celebrities on social media is certainly nothing new (see: the countless Instagram accounts claiming to be Beyoncé DMing Fans to ask for $100 in gift cards). According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data, fraudster scams were the highest-reported fraud category last year, says John Breault, vice president of fraud and public policy communications for the National Consumers Association. The Federal Trade Commission receives 725,989 complaints People incurred a total loss of $2.7 billion from these schemes. That number is likely “a much underestimated number,” Breault says, given the fact that many fraud victims can be too embarrassed to report themselves.

“In my experience, scammers will impersonate whoever they think their victim is likely to trust or respond to,” Breault says.

About MrBeast specifically, Breault says he’s unable to point to any numbers as to how popular the target is for celebrity impersonators. However, he’s not surprised that scammers would exploit MrBeast’s brand as someone known for lavish gifts in order to entice unsuspecting signs to give up personal information. It’s also “not surprising,” Breault says, that scammers target the audience of YouTubers, who “tend to be younger” and therefore more vulnerable (in fact, according to vote Donaldson ran on Twitter earlier this year, nearly 40 percent of his audience is between the ages of 10 and 20).

But young people aren’t the only ones who fall for the MrBeast scam. Brooke Duhon, a 49-year-old anger room employee and father of nine from Louisiana, says he discovered MrBeast after watching YouTuber Preston yell at him. He was fascinated by the prospect of stumbling upon good fortune. He said, “If I win anything I will be happy.” “Anything from a simple car to cash. But I’ve had really bad luck when it comes to that.”

Brooke joined what he thought was MrBeast’s official fan page, which has just over 100,000 followers, and was immediately inundated with posts from people claiming to be associated with the YouTuber, saying that if fans could solve a logic puzzle or answer a question, they could make money. He commented on a post and I sent him a message from a woman who said she would send him a $2,000 prize if she could send him $30 on CashApp. Grab the wisdom and block it.

“It’s an old scam, people keep renovating it to make it new,” Duhon told me. “It was kind of ‘live and learn’ for me. You don’t need to send money to make money.”

Although most large platforms have regulations in place that ostensibly prevent such ads from being promoted – YouTube’s advertising policy, for example, specifically prohibits “impersonating brands or companies by referencing or modifying brand content in ads or URL, destinations, misrepresenting yourself with a brand or business name” – it’s very difficult for platforms to track. Breault refers to ad regulation as “a constant game of Whack-A-Mole,” but feels strongly that the responsibility rests primarily with platforms like YouTube to ensure a better user experience for those who may be vulnerable to fraud.

“Of course, platforms have a responsibility to monitor their platforms to make them as secure as possible,” Breault says. “They have technology in place and other processes to prevent that from happening. But it’s not always effective. And a lot of these schemes are being executed.”

With scammers emerging faster than platforms can crack them down, the onus is largely on the consumer to protect themselves from fraud. After narrowly evading any negative consequences from clicking on a fake MrBeast ad, Austin keeps a debit card he got from an app he signed up for as a reminder of the kinds of his mistake.

“I feel so good nothing happened to me, but it’s so scary because you felt so stupid afterward,” he says. “You give them information about your banking history, very personal things that can be used against you. It feels bad to be on the receiving end of it.”

Although he primarily blames YouTube for hosting the ad, it was the MrBeast brand that he said gave him a false sense of security for giving all that information to a complete stranger.

He’s like, “Oh, he’s got millions of dollars?” Of course he could give away $1,000 gift cards,” he says of his thought process at the time. “Who knows what he’d do?

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