Front-running scams rampant on YouTube with 500% surge in 2022: CertiK

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Front-run­ning scam bots are sig­nif­i­cant­ly gain­ing trac­tion on YouTube, with the num­ber of dubi­ous videos increas­ing six-fold in 2022 accord­ing to a new report from blockchain secu­ri­ty firm CertiK.

In the fir­m’s Dec. 1 report, Cer­tiK explores how a wave of front-run­ning bot scams are promis­ing free returns as high as 10X a day, but ulti­mate­ly end up swip­ing peo­ple’s funds.

Notably, CertiK’s analy­sis found 84% of videos on YouTube men­tion­ing “front run­ning bot” were scams, with the num­ber increas­ing 500% from 28 videos in 2021 to 168 videos in 2022: 

“There are com­mon themes in all of these videos: free code and huge returns. Suc­cess­ful run­ners won’t give away free code on a social media site, they will sell it for a large amount on under­ground forums.”

The scam itself gen­er­al­ly sees vic­tims being guid­ed to down­loaded fake bot soft­ware, which is designed to swipe their assets once they try to ini­ti­ate a front-run­ning transaction. 

Even when they are not scams, front-run­ning bots cause prob­lems as they can give the deploy­er a dis­tinct advan­tage over oth­er cryp­to traders in cer­tain circumstances. 

The bots gen­er­al­ly scan blockchains for uncon­firmed trans­ac­tions and then pay a greater gas fee to squeeze in ahead of said trans­ac­tions, “essen­tial­ly beat­ing it to the punch and tak­ing all the prof­it on offer” from a trade. 

The report iden­ti­fied videos using dubi­ous titles such as “$15,000 Front Run­ning Cryp­to Bot Leak! — 50X HUGE RETURNS!” and “Uniswap Front Run­ning Bot 2022 – EASY TUTORIAL (Huge prof­its)” in which scam­mers give fake tuto­ri­als on down­load­ing and using the bots. 

The videos’ com­ment sec­tions are of course swarmed with count­less bot com­ments prais­ing the con­tent so that real com­ments sound­ing alarm bells are buried under the noise.

An exam­ple of the typ­i­cal com­ments found on front-run­ning bot scam videos. Source: CertiK

Scam reports have been rife of late, as Coin­tele­graph report­ed on Nov. 22 that deep­fake videos using Sam Bankman-Fried’s like­ness were cir­cu­lat­ing online aim­ing to dupe peo­ple impact­ed by FTX’s bankruptcy. 

Relat­ed: Meta­verse exploita­tion and abuse to rise in 2023: Kaspersky

Cer­tiK released a sep­a­rate report on Nov. 17 out­lin­ing that cryp­to scam­mers have been using iden­ti­ties bought on the black mar­ket to put their names and faces on fraud­u­lent projects. Described as “Pro­fes­sion­al KYC actors,” Cer­tiK found that their iden­ti­ties could be pur­chased for as low as $8.00.

On Red­dit on Dec. 1, mem­bers of the r/Metallica com­mu­ni­ty were also send­ing out warn­ings over fake Metal­li­ca live streams fea­tur­ing all the band mem­bers that linked to cryp­to give­away scams.

Some mem­bers even claimed that the YouTube algo­rithm had been rec­om­mend­ing the videos to them in their top recommendations.

Com­ment on r/Metallica: Reddit

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