Steve Wozniak claims cryptocurrency scam started on Youtube months ago, costing users millions

The co-founder of technology giant Apple, Steve Wozniak speaks during the second day of the World of Business Ideas (WOBI) forum, in Bogota, Colombia, 06 June 2018. (Photo by Daniel Garzon Herazo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

For months before a scam co-opting the accounts of several famous people on Twitter was revealed and quickly quashed last week, a similar scheme was being perpetrated on YouTube using images of Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Tesla founder Elon Musk and others, according to a lawsuit filed this week.

Both scams allegedly try to convince others that they can double their money by simply sending cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to the celebrities, while the currency actually goes to scammers, and users get nothing in return. 

Wozniak said in a statement released on Wednesday by lawyers representing him and 17 others around the world that YouTube didn't respond to earlier complaints, allowing ineffective algorithms to handle them instead. 

This delay caused losses of cryptocurrency equivalent to tens of millions of dollars, and the video platform benefited from the scam by collecting revenue for advertising that appeared with the videos, according to the complaint. 

"If YouTube had acted quickly to stop this to a reasonable extent, we would not be here now," Wozniak said. "If a crime is being committed, (users) MUST be able to reach humans (at YouTube) capable of stopping it. What human would see posts like these and not ban them as criminal immediately?"

Joe Cotchett, whose law firm filed the lawsuit, is to appear at a news conference with Wozniak at 11 a.m. Thursday on Zoom and at Cotchett's office in Burlingame.