The scam lures victims to download fake front-running bot software that swipes their assets once they try to initiate a transaction.
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.
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.
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.