Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sues YouTube for allowing scammers to use images and videos of him in a cryptocurrency scam
Apple’s colourful co-founder Steve Wozniak has begun legal proceedings against Google’s YouTube, over a cryptocurrency scam.
According to a Bloomberg report, YouTube has for months allowed scammers to use his name and likeness as part of a fraudlent bitcoin giveaway.
The cryptocurrency scam is similar to the one that engulfed Twitter last week, when a hack of its internal systems saw the Twitter accounts belonging to some very public figures and corporations including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, as well as Apple and Uber, tweeting a bitcoin scam that offered to double people’s bitcoin payment.
Wozniak left Apple way back in 1985, but he objected when fraudsters reportedly began using images and videos of him to convince YouTube users that he was hosting a live bitcoin giveaway.
The scam (like the Twitter one), promised that anyone who sent him bitcoins will get double the number back.
This is according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in state court in San Mateo County, California.
“But when users transfer their cryptocurrency, in an irreversible transaction, they receive nothing back,” Wozniak reportedly said.
The scam also uses the names and images of other tech celebrities, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, according to the suit.
YouTube has been “unresponsive” to Wozniak’s repeated requests to take down the fraudulent videos, he said.
By contrast, Twitter reacted “that same day” after the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and high-profile users were hacked last week as part of a similar phony bitcoin giveaway, he said.
“YouTube has been unapologetically hosting, promoting, and directly profiting from similar scams,” Wozniak alleged.
Wozniak sued along with 17 other alleged victims of the scam, said to be from the US, UK, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, China and Europe.
They are reportedly asking the court to order YouTube and its parent company Alphabet to immediately remove the videos and to warn users about the scam giveaways. They are also seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
YouTube told Bloomberg in an email that it takes seriously reports of abuse of its platform and takes quick action when it detects violation of its policies, including scams or impersonation.
According to its website, YouTube eliminated more than 6 million videos during the first quarter and cancelled almost 2 million accounts for violating its policies.