The anatomy of a scam: ‘Like YouTube Videos and Get Paid’ schemes

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The anatomy of a scam: ‘Like YouTube Videos and Get Paid’ schemes

Have you ever considered a remote job that only requires you to click the like or subscribe button on YouTube videos?

If you have, we’re sorry to say it’s a scam. This month, researchers at Bitdefender Labs have been taking a closer look at the latest remote job swindles polluting social media platforms – namely getting paid for liking random YouTube videos.

Online part-time job listings can be a great opportunity to earn extra cash. Despite many legitimate work-from-home options out there, scammers have fully invested their attention into defrauding unwary internet users to make a quick buck.

How the scam works

There’s no such thing as secret tools, apps or platforms where you can earn easy money, and you need to remain cautious about promises of unrealistic high earnings, especially if they require minimum effort.

According to Bitdefender Labs researchers, the scam starts with potential victims receiving a message from an unknown number (usually beginning with an African country code) that promises payment for simply liking videos on YouTube.

"In fact, this is not the first time the scammers have tried to pitch this type of scam to consumers in search for extra income. What makes this campaign different from previous iterations is that victims actually get paid something, a highly successful tactic that earns their trust, and plays an important role in convincing the users to “invest” in becoming VIP members that will help them earn even more easy money on simple tasks such as liking videos on YouTube,” Nicolae Postolachi, Manager at Bitdefender’s Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab explained.

It’s also important to note that we’ve seen similar job listings on various Facebook groups promoting remote work or lucrative pay for liking and subscribing to YouTube channels as well.

“Hello. I'm [redacted] Lopez Digital Marketing at [redacted], do you want some extra income?

“In fact, this is a part-time job that does not affect your other jobs and you do not have to pay any registration fee. It's simple, you just have to like a YouTube video and send a screenshot and you'll be paid. We pay you 30 RON if you have already liked the 3 videos, you can like videos in your free time and earn up to 200-2,000 RON or more per day. Do you want me to show you how it works?,” the scammers said (machine translated from Romanian).

Other intros include: “We are a global multinational company and we are currently working as a social media team to increase the visibility of social media celebrities on Youtube and get paid by following and liking our celebrity YouTube accounts. We have to fill out the form to pay you a salary of 30 RON.”

The scammers ask you to provide:

  • Your WhatsApp phone number
  • Age and occupation
  • Full name
  • Bank account number

Our researcher played along and feigned interest. This is what follows:

  • You receive instructions to hit Like and Subscribe on just three YouTube videos and send screenshots as proof. The scammer clearly emphasized that there is no need to watch the full videos.
  • The three videos were as followed:
  1. Work 1: Funny Things Romanians Do

2. Work 2: The Incredible Impact of Romania


  • After sending the “proof”, the scammer instructs you to download Telegram and discuss payment with a company “receptionist” of the company to whom you must also give a specific withdrawal code
  • After filling out the requested data, our researchers promptly received the payment of 30 RON ($6.50)
  • After gaining the trust of the victim, the scammer continues the ruse, promising more daily “tasks”

Although the first few tasks (likes on YouTube videos) pay only a few bucks, the scammers lure victims with larger returns if they “invest” their money.

Once the victim has joined the Telegram channel, the second part of the scam comes into play: You are invited to join a VIP group that can earn you even more money. However, there’s a catch: You need to pay a “fee” to unlock these high-paying tasks.

Payments range between $21.66 and $1,083.

“After completing 3 prepaid transaction tasks, you will be our official member and are eligible to receive 30 ron commission per video task an joining VIP group_!_

The task is to click on the order, and upon completion you will receive cash. Just indicate the chosen amount of 100 ron to receive 130 ron. You will have a personal tutor to help you complete these tasks. If you skip this task, your next payment will be only 2 ron and you will not be eligible for any bonus.

This is a hassle-free bonus award, traders have already paid us the margin! If the transaction fails, your funds will be returned.

  • 100 ron refund 130 ron + (beginner wins)

(beginner wins)

  • 250 ron refund 325 ron + (beginner wins)

(beginner wins)

  • 500 ron refund 650 ron + (group benefit)

(group benefit)

  • 750 ron refund 970 ron + (group benefit)

(group benefit)

  • 1000 ron refund 1300 ron + (group benefit)

(group benefits)

  • 1500 ron refund 1950 ron + (group benefit)

(group benefits)

  • 2500 ron refund 3250 ron + (group benefit)

(group benefit)

  • 5000 ron refund 6500 ron + (group benefit)

(group benefit)

If you have any questions about the post, please contact the reception.”

The ultimate goal of the scammers is to rip you off, and if you make any of the above payments, they will stop corresponding with you, and block your number.

It’s important to note that the Telegram channel was filled with screenshots of payments made towards victims to earn your trust.

How to spot Like YouTube Videos remote job listings:

  1. You are contacted out of the blue by a recruiter from a company you do not know on WhatsApp
  2. You do not recognize the number contacting you
  3. You are promised high payments for watching or liking YouTube videos
  4. You are urged to download Telegram and join a channel
  5. The scammer will refuse to talk to you over the phone or provide details about the business
  6. Demand upfront payments to unlock higher-paying tasks/rewards
  7. The scammer uses poor grammar or spelling errors during communication with you

7 things you should do if you fall victim

Anyone can fall victim to online scams. If you’re the victim of such scams, we recommend you to:

  • Make screenshots of your conversations (chat screenshots and payment receipts)
  • Cease any further communication, block the user and leave the Telegram group/channel
  • Ensure that your online accounts are secured with strong, unique passwords, and enable two-factor authentication
  • Remain vigilant against unsolicited correspondence and monitor your accounts
  • Report the scam account to the social media platform
  • File a police report and contact your bank
  • Always alert your friends and family of the scam

How to stay safe from similar scams in the future

If someone ever approaches you on WhatsApp or any social media platform with such offers, you should:

  1. Research the job listing and company to ensure that it is legitimate
  2. Never share your bank details or other personally identifiable information with strangers. Even if the scammers make a small payment to you and then you figure out it’s a scam, they now have your contact info, name and other details that can be used in future schemes in an attempt to defraud you
  3. Never pay upfront to receive a job opportunity: a legitimate business will never ask you to pay your own money to receive a job. Anyone who asks you too is a scammer.
  4. Never trust job offers that sound too good to be true. A high-paying job for very little work or small expenses on your part is a huge red flag
  5. Report and block the number. Do not engage in further communication with the individual
  6. Use online security tools such as Bitdefender Scamio that can help detect scam attempts and other illicit activities that may put your identity and savings at risk. Bitdefender Scamio is a free chatbot powered by our award-winning threat detection that can help you find out if someone is trying to scam you
  7. Stay informed of the latest scams and fraudster tricks
  8. Safeguard your Identity: Use services such as Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection to monitor and get alerts if your personal information is used online and sniff out social media impostors




With more than 15 years of experience in cyber-security, I manage a team of experts in Risks, Threat Intel, Automation and Big Data Processing.

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Mihai is a Senior Manager in the Bitdefender Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab with over 14 years of expertise in Malware Analysis, Vulnerability Assessment and Threat Intelligence.

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