Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak says YouTube has for months allowed scammers to use his name and likeness as part of a phony bitcoin giveaway similar to the one conducted during the hack of Twitter blue checkmarks last week.
Scammers used images and video of Wozniak, who left Apple in 1985, to convince YouTube users that he was hosting a live giveaway and anyone who sent him bitcoins will get double the number back, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in state court in San Mateo County, California. “But when users transfer their cryptocurrency, in an irreversible transaction, they receive nothing back.”
The scam also uses the names and images of other tech celebrities, including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, according to the suit.
YouTube has been “unresponsive” to Wozniak’s repeated requests to take down the fraudulent videos, he said… “YouTube has been unapologetically hosting, promoting, and directly profiting from similar scams.”
Wozniak sued along with 17 other alleged victims of the scam. They are asking the court to order YouTube and its parent company Alphabet Inc. to immediately remove the videos and to warn users about the scam giveaways. They are also seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
MacDailyNews Take: YouTube is notorious for scams and for failing to take them down expeditiously. Woz is right to sue YouTube for not taking down videos that misuse his name and likeness in a timely fashion.
MacDailyNews Note: Wozniak has remained an employee of Apple in a ceremonial capacity since stepping down in 1985. Woz says his paycheck is $50 a week after savings and taxes.
I Never Left Apple. I never left Apple’s official employee list, but I left direct work inside on a few occasions. After a plane crash, I took a year off to finish college and then sponsored a couple of rock concerts. I came back to Apple and worked as an engineer. Eventually I wanted the fun of the early days and left to create a universal remote control. But I always sort of represent Apple when I make appearances or give interviews. – Steve Wozniak, January 3, 2018
Woz in 2018 said, “I’m still technically an employee. I’m the only person who’s been on the payroll since day one.” Based on the last Apple organizational chart of which he was aware, Woz says that he still reports to Steve Jobs. “Since he died, I can’t be fired,”” he said.