Impersonation Is Great If You're Alec Baldwin, Not So Much If You're a YouTube Scammer

The video channel is trying to stop people impersonating influencers and trying to foment possible scams.
Impersonation Is Great If You're Alec Baldwin, Not So Much If You're a YouTube Scammer
Image credit: Philip DeFranco | Youtube

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Associate Editor
2 min read

We all love a great impersonation: Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump, Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, Tracey Ullman playing ... well, anybody. (A personal favorite: Ullman as Dame Judi Dench trying to wiggle out of a shoplifting charge by bragging in a posh British accent, "Because I'm a national treasure. I can get away with anything".)

All well and good. But the humor in impersonation fades when someone uses it to try to scam you online and take your money. That's exactly what's been happening on YouTube, and the video channel is fighting back.

Related: Why It's Nearly Impossible To Stop This Amazon and eBay Scheme

This all comes out of the fact that a number of so-called "influencers," like Zoella, Rita Ora and Rogue Rocket production company CEO Philip DeFranco, have been the targets of a likely scammer, along with untold numbers of YouTube viewers.

 The scammer has been sending out bogus YouTube messages that look as though they come from the influencers themselves, thanks to the YouTube feature that allows people to message one another.

The bogus message to DeFranco's followers says, "Thanks for commenting on my videos! I am selecting [a] random subscriber from my subscriber list for [a] gift and you have just won it." It then invites the recipient to "click here to redeem it" and includes a link.

That's a dangerous proposition, of course, but YouTube is on the case: "We're in the process of implementing additional measures to prevent impersonation like this," "Team YouTube" tweeted to DeFranco. The tweet suggested that anyone suspecting scammers is free to block them by going to goo.gl/67Vosy.

Related: 6 Warning Signs You May Be Dealing With an SEO Scam Artist

As The Verge pointed out this week, YouTube already has a policy on impersonation which states that “copying a user’s channel layout, using a similar username, or posing as another person in comments, emails, or videos may be considered harassment.” The company's policies regarding scams states, “Content that deliberately tries to mislead users for financial gain may be removed, and in some cases strikes may be issued to the uploader.”

Hopefully, you've been warned.

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