A network of Russian-speaking hackers are phishing YouTube influencers with fake collaboration offers in order to hijack their accounts, Google said in a blog post Wednesday. Since May of this year, Google's Threat Analysis Group has blocked 1.6 million phishing messages and restored almost 4,000 accounts that were targeted using these techniques.
Google identified the perpetrators of the campaign as a group of hackers tied to an online forum. They developed false collaboration opportunities with YouTubers ranging from free antivirus software to online games in order to steal their accounts.
Once the victims took the bait, the hackers would take over their channels and sell it or use it to perpetuate crypto scams. The hackers have done everything from forging business emails and building fake websites to delivering malicious files via social engineering.
The company said it has "decreased the volume of related phishing emails on Gmail by 99.6% since May 2021" and has referred the scheme to the FBI for further investigation.