Apple co-Founder Steve Wozniak files lawsuit against YouTube, Google over bitcoin scams using his name

By: |
July 24, 2020 7:17 PM

Videos and images of other tech majors like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Brad Garlinghouse, and Robert Kiyosaki have also been used in similar scams, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit further alleged that YouTube was fully aware of the ongoing scam.The lawsuit further alleged that YouTube was fully aware of the ongoing scam. (File image: Reuters)

Steve Wozniak: Apple co-Founder Steve Wozniak has filed a lawsuit against Google and its video streaming platform YouTube for allowing scammers to hold phony bitcoin giveaways using his name and likeness. The lawsuit, which has been accessed by Financial Express Online, has been filed in the Superior Court of the State of California. The lawsuit has alleged that for months now, YouTube has been “unapologetically hosting, promoting and directly profiting” from such scams, which it said are being steadily streamed on the video streaming platform. The videos and promotions of such scams, the lawsuit said, are falsely using Wozniak’s images.

The lawsuit also lists defrauded YouTube users as plaintiffs, and also stated that names and images of other tech entrepreneurs are also being used for such scams, which have defrauded the users of YouTube of millions of dollars.

According to the lawsuit, the scammers use Wozniak’s images as well as videos to convince users that the tech entrepreneur would be hosting a live Bitcoin Giveaway event, adding that the users have a limited-time opportunity to send bitcoin to a given address in order to receive twice the amount in return. As a result, users who carry out the irreversible cryptocurrency transaction are left scammed when they get nothing in return.

The lawsuit further alleged that YouTube was fully aware of the ongoing scam, and instead of taking action against them, the video streaming platform and its parent company Google made such scams look legitimate. It further alleged that the company also promoted them and profited from them by providing such scammer paid advertising to target users who could be harmed.

Videos and images of other tech majors like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Brad Garlinghouse, and Robert Kiyosaki have also been used in similar scams, the lawsuit said, providing screenshots. It also quoted a June report in Bitcoin.com as saying that just the Elon Musk BTC giveaway alone scammed YouTube users of $2 million. Another report was quoted as saying that YouTube’s complicity in such scams had led to users being scammed of around $24 million in cryptocurrency.

Wozniak’s lawsuit also stated that he had repeatedly tried to get in touch with YouTube to bring such scams using his name to a halt, but the company was unresponsive. The lawsuit further stated that despite the pleas by plaintiffs as well as users to take action against these scams, the company “repeatedly delayed or refused to do so”. It added that due to YouTube’s failure to act, Wozniak’s reputation has been harmed “irreparably”. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, who also include some of the defrauded YouTube users, have sought an order to YouTube to bring such practices to a halt, among other relief.

The lawsuit has also enlisted proof of the allegations that Wozniak and other plaintiffs have leveled against YouTube and Google.

Wozniak, in his lawsuit, also compared YouTube’s unresponsive stance against Twitter’s prompt response against a security breach that occurred last week. In a major hack, accounts of bigwigs like Barack Obama, Elon Musk and Bill Gates were hacked and attackers posted tweets which attempted to scam users by convincing them that these verified users were hosting bitcoin giveaways and would double the amount that the users sent.

Twitter had reacted by promptly deleting such tweets and disabling all the verified accounts and limiting the functionalities of other accounts to prevent more users from being duped.

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