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YouTube Used by Criminals to Promote Sale of Bogus COVID-19 Supplies and Medications — Investigative Report Shows

This month the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) and Coalition for a Safe Web (CSW) published the results of a timely investigation they conducted regarding the use of the YouTube platform by criminals to advertise the sale of fake COVID-19 medical supplies and medications.

NOTE: It is not the objective of this post to discuss the obvious responsibility of YouTube to police their platform more effectively, but to give IP investigators an insight into the use of YouTube for criminal purposes, and how to detect and present a comprehensive and accessible report.

YouTube Enabling (Maybe Validating) Shadowy Sellers of Medical Masks and Bogus Vaccines

This 20 page investigative report provides an excellent presentation (through narration and screen shots) of the advertising pitch and presentation made by bogus sites.

In order to illustrate the modus operandi of these criminals, the investigation focused on one (1) such bogus site.

Here are a few highlights:

  • You Tube screen shots show photos of alleged n95 masks and non-existent vaccines for sale
  • Indications that WhatsApp is a preferred way for the criminals to communicate with a duped customer
  • Narrative of the undercover investigator’s conversations with the criminals through WhatsApp
  • Conflicting shipping addresses exposed on the sites and reiterated during undercover conversations with the criminals
  • Indications that the criminals at times pretended to be pharmacists
  • The deliberate imbedding of the official Center for Disease Control (CDC) link onto the bogus YouTube page to give an appearance of legitimacy

In view of the flurry of heartless bad actors circulating during this global pandemic looking to turn a buck, we need all the specificity we can to protect and save lives.

I highly recommend all IP protection professionals take the time to review this report carefully.

RELATED LINK

Federal Officials Warn Against Growing Threat of COVID-19 FRAUD

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Ron Alvarez is an IP Investigations / Protection writer and licensed private investigator in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has published a number of articles on various investigative topics for PI Magazine. Ron is certified by the Interpol-International IP Crime Investigators College (IIPCIC.) as a "Transnational and Organized Crime Intellectual Property (IP) Investigator."

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