Beware of Scammers Posing As MrBeast, Giving Away Free Apple Gift Cards This Holiday Season
You should never let your guard down when you're on social networking and online retail sites, especially this holiday, when the festive shopping ramps up.
According to cybersecurity specialist Tenable, the cybercriminals of today are leveraging the capabilities of generative artificial intelligence (AI) to target unsuspecting consumers online. And with retail spending expected to increase in the coming weeks, there are greater risks of becoming victim to various types of scams.
“Often, scams that appear during these holidays may be riddled with inaccuracy in spelling and grammar, but the availability of generative AI closes the gap between the novice scammer with poor spelling and grammar and gives them a competitive edge they’ve never had before," said Satnam Narang, Senior Staff Research Engineer at Tenable.
Thanks to the emerging technology, it's now much easier to create believable video deepfakes, which allow scammers to impersonate famous personalities online. Narang, for instance, cites a video he saw on TikTok, where one user was impersonating MrBeast to promote a fake iPhone 15 giveaway contest. MrBeast is a YouTube creator with over 188 million subscribers, who's known for expensive stunts and big giveaways.
Narang thinks deepfakes have improved so much compared to what's seen in the past, making it harder to tell what's real from what's not. So it's safe to expect cybercriminals to once again leverage the likenesses of personalities like MrBeast to promote scams.
Cybercriminals are also expected to continue to use an old tactic, one which involves the promotion of free gift cards. Narang explains that they'll go on Instagram and TikTok to attract users to claim gift cards worth up to US$1,000 from brands like Apple, Sephora and Spotify, among others. However, these gift cards aren’t actually free as they require users to share personal information and purchase premium offers, such as free trials. These free trials would cost them money in the long run if they fail to cancel in time.
"Today, cybercriminals can begin their scams on one social network and drive users to another one," said Narang. "Fake profiles are rampant and scammers can create hundreds of accounts to legitimize their scams."
But there are ways for you to remain protected even as scams are on the rise. Tenable advises being doubtful of personalities like celebrities giving away things and to avoid links that take you off the platform you're using. You should also watch out for profiles with no engagement or posts.
Additionally, you should remember that free is almost never free. If you, for example, see an ad for a free gift card, understand that you'll be paying for it, not with money but with something else, be it your personal information or your credit card details. Therefore, be wary of such offers.
Finally, only engage with websites and services you trust. If you’re looking for products and deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, go directly to the source whenever possible.
With retail spending expected to increase during the holiday season, there are greater risks of becoming victim to various types of scams, warns cybersecurity company Tenable.
Generative AI has made it much easier to create believable video deepfakes, which allow scammers to impersonate famous personalities online.
Tenable says it's safe to expect cybercriminals to leverage the likenesses of personalities like MrBeast to promote scams as shopping ramps up.