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Celebrity deep fakes are promoting Medicare scams on YouTube

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  • 2 min read

YouTube has become a breeding ground for AI-generated celebrity clones promoting fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid scams, leaving users vulnerable to potential financial harm.

An investigation by 404Media based on a tip by a college student sheds light on an alarming trend where shoddy AI clones of high-profile personalities like Joe Rogan, Taylor Swift, Steve Harvey, Ice Cube, Andrew Tate, Oprah, and Dwayne Johnson are actively endorsing dubious schemes.

Most ads are run by companies such as Matilla Marketing, Idea Clan, Inc., Lookfinity Ltd, and Milkit Ou, which are registered in Colombia, the United States, Singapore, and Estonia.

According to 404Media’s findings, ads associated with these scams have amassed over 195 million views on YouTube, with minimal intervention from the platform itself. Despite widespread outrage from both YouTubers and users, YouTube has taken down few, if any, of these deceptive advertisements.

The scams involve impersonating celebrities such as Taylor Swift, enticing viewers with promises of holiday stimulus packages and relief funds due to inflation. The ads, voiced by AI clones, redirect users to websites offering variations of ‘Relief Direct Aid.’ The US Department of Health and Human Services has already warned this type of scam.

“The scheme involves scammers pretending to offer you grants from HHS and asking for payment or personal information to receive the fake grants. Scammers may use various social media platforms and chat applications to contact you and direct you to fake websites, online chats, chat boxes, or live customer support in order to lure you into providing your personal or financial information,” warned the advisory.

The prevalence of these scams and YouTube’s apparent inaction in removing them, even after a significant public outcry, raises questions about the platform’s ability to safeguard its users. The fact that these ads continue unabated suggests that AI-generated content is overwhelming YouTube’s moderation systems, or more alarmingly, Google is failing to prioritise user protection.

This problem is not limited to YouTube. Other platforms like TikTok and Instagram face similar challenges with AI celebrity deep fakes promoting products and malicious websites.

Many celebrities including Tom Hanks, MrBeast, Oprah, Gayle King, and Cardi B are now openly speaking out against these scam ads.

As generative AI becomes more sophisticated, the potential for exploitation and user manipulation increases. The big tech companies currently lack effective methods to fight the disinformation.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: