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  • Darshan Pareek

YouTube getting swamped with deepfake videos of celebs selling Medicare

An image of corner of a laptop with YouTube open on it

Poor-quality artificial intelligence duplicates of well-known figures such as Joe Rogan, Taylor Swift, Steve Harvey, Ice Cube, Andrew Tate, Oprah, and The Rock are promoting fraudulent schemes related to Medicare and Medicaid to a wide viewership on YouTube.

This information comes from a playlist containing over 1,600 videos, compiled by a tipster who shared the findings with 404 Media.

Google appears to have taken minimal action to address this issue, as ads associated with these scams have accumulated over 195 million views on YouTube. Several of these videos though have been taken down.

"Hi guys, it’s Taylor Swift. Remember those stimulus checks? Well there’s a new thing going viral. The state is giving these $6,400 holiday packages to cover all your bills," says one of the ads, read by an AI voice clone of Taylor Swift. "It’s a holiday boost due to inflation, and you won’t need to pay it back. You’ll have so much leftover cash for rent, gas and groceries, you’ll be approved for your holiday stimulus as long as you don’t have Medicare or Medicaid. Just visit the website, answer two quick questions, and a representative will handle the rest, then you’ll get your stimulus package in like two or three days. I left the link below so you can claim yours too."

This advertisement, along with another featuring Taylor Swift, has garnered more than 300,000 views each. Notably, there are at least four duplicates of Joe Rogan, three of Andrew Tate, three of Oprah and The Rock, one of Hailey Bieber, and one of Alex Cooper, the host of the "Call Her Daddy" podcast.

Other such videos with notable view counts are two Steve Harvey videos with 18 million views and another with 5.5 million views.

There are videos featuring The Rock and Oprah with 4.6 million views, and another with 2.9 million views. A Joe Rogan video has accumulated 2.1 million views, while an Andrew Tate video has reached 1.3 million views.

Many of the advertisements rely on AI voice cloning, coupled with out-of-context video footage of the celebrity. Alternatively, some ads initially feature a brief authentic clip of a celebrity, only to transition to the scam using a different actor or voice clone to capture the user's attention. There are also ads that have no celebrities but still lead users to the same scam websites, all posted by the same advertiser.

These ads direct users to websites promoting various iterations of 'Relief Direct Aid.' The scam has been highlighted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, which issued a warning stating, "Scammers steal money from the public through fake HHS websites and social media schemes.... by offering fake HHS grants."

Locating these ads, discovering public discontent towards them, and establishing connections between different ads in the scheme are tasks that are not notably challenging.

A post from October on the YouTube subreddit captures the sentiment, "Enough is enough, I'm tired of all these scam subsidy ads that use AI voices of people like Joe Rogan or Joe Biden. I've been getting them for months, and YouTube is letting them run rampant."

MrBeast, considered one of the most renowned YouTubers, and a victim in one of such ads, has taken a stand against these ads by publicly addressing the issue, stating that he himself has been cloned in a video.

A video by MrBeast exposing the scam has gained significant attention on Twitter, amassing nearly 34 million views.


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