YouTube scam warning after fake “suspension” emails strike users

A YouTube scam where users are threatened with suspension for an unspecified “violation” of the video site’s guidelines has been circulating via email, according to Softpedia’s report.

The phishing YouTube scam is common enough to be causing users to raise questions on Google Groups, according to the site’s report.

The YouTube scam email reads, “We’d like to inform you that due to repeated or severe violations of our community guidelines and your YouTube account will be suspended 3 days from the time of this message.”

YouTube scam: Trap leads to surveys

This form of scam is more common on Facebook, Softpedia notes. Other We Live Security reports describe such typical Facebook scams. As with Facebook, it’s likely that multiple variants of the scam email are circulating, so the text may vary.

The particular variant seen by Softpedia continues, “After careful review we determined that activity in your account violated our community guidelines, which prohibit spam, scams or commercially deceptive content.

“Please be aware that you are prohibited from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube accounts.”

YouTube scams: What to do

ESET security specialist Mark James says, “The problem with phishing emails is that it’s their job to trick you into thinking they are legit, often using the same graphics or templates from legitimate emails from real companies.”

“The methods they use include rewards for following links, penalties for not taking action and sometimes topics that offend easily forcing you not to take advice for fear of being judged or even prosecuted.”

In this case, Softpedia says, the link in the emails directs the users to a series of surveys, some of which ask for the user’s phone number – which can lead to further SMS scams.

James says, “There are many ways to spot these false emails, firstly, most companies will have layers of procedures before sending out emails (especially intent of termination emails) that are proofread and checked over again before being sent, also look to see who its written to, if it is about a service that’s going to be cancelled then it SHOULD be directed to YOU not “Dear customer” or “Dear user”. They want your business and its important for you to feel your important.

“Check the sending email address. Don’t be fooled by the company name if it appears in the address, look to see if it looks right, most organizations want you to remember their details, so a long winded email address from PayPal with “pay” and “pal” in there somewhere won’t be from them, look for unrealistic threats – if it’s going to happen in 24 hours, or some other short time period, chances are it’s fake.”

“DON’T open any attachments regardless of how enticing they seem, if you need to fill a form out to continue the service you are okay to call the company and ask them to mail the form to you, at that point you can verify if it is legitimate. DON’T follow any links, if the email has a link then check to see not only what it says but move your mouse over it and see WHERE it goes.”

A detailed We Live Security guide to the latest phishing scams (and how to avoid them) can be found here.

Author , We Live Security

  • Edward Tischler

    I got this exact email yesterday, so i looked through it carefully to see whether or not it was a scam, since, as someone who makes youtube videos, could understand if i accidentally didn’t follow a copyright rule. However, two things struck me; 1. “multiple violations” – what? i never got a forewarning on any “other” violations. so, this must be fake. 2. it told me to go to a website separate from youtube where i would verify my account to “recover” it from a “suspension”.

    Both of these led me to believe it was a scam, but it wasn’t until i actually went to the website that i figured out it was 100% fake. I saw the extremely commonly found surveys that are completely fake, and i closed the webpage, deleted the email, and went back to making youtube videos. Then, I searched up “youtube account suspension email scam” and this was the first link. I love the internet

  • Lauren

    I just got this 12 hours ago. I’m still kinda scared… O_O

    • Don’t worry…Google logos are intentionally extremely hard to reproduce. it will always look distorted or “noisy” (grayish-blurry-fuzzy) if you see that delete immediately…it’s probably running a script while you read it! so if you can enable a script monitor in the lower left corner of your browser…do so.

  • anon

    This is the letter I received minutes ago with red flag 1) Different name from sender 2) an old guys picture on account when it was a womens name as sender 3) visited link and had instructions page that didn’t look official. I’ve spent some time researching this because it felt weird and hope no one falls prey to this. However, I did email this individual copy and pasting there message. The following is what they wrote:

    Priscilla Kistler has sent you a message

    You can reply to this message by visiting your messages.

    Dear xxxxxx,

    First of all My name is Annette Goldston (AnnetteGoldston193@gmail.com) and I am a member of YouTube’s Leadership Team. As you might have heard, YouTube’s database has been hacked and leaked on the internet and because of this, your account is at risk. We are asking for everyone who receives this message to verify their accounts with the link provided below. The “Mobile Verification System” (MVS) was also comprimized during the attack so we have to resort to “Manual Verification”. If you do not verify your account, we will assume that this account, xxxxxx, has been comprimized and will be shut down. You have 3 days from the time this message was sent to complete this very important process.

    Verification Link: hxxp://lockredirect.com/VerifyAccount

    Thank you,
    Annette Goldston (AnnetteGoldston193@gmail.com)

    Sep 21, 2014 06:24:19

  • Victor Cachat

    Just got two of these messages.
    It was tempting to reply and lie, but then they would just add me to a spam list.

    • I used to enjoy distorting the comment spam that looked man-made by making them say awful things about them selves (you can’t retweet and change the tweets txt anymore….it was fun tho! problem now is I can drive the 1% that are people out of their minds…but if i link…they win…they get huge bump.

  • Oldphag

    Got this 5 minutes ago. Heh, I feel special now.

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