Grand Theft Auto Online’s upcoming casino update has a lot of players hoping for expensive cars, new clothing items and lots of other things to buy. Some scammers are taking advantage of players’ excitement using fake online streams claiming to drop in-game money, sometimes in exchange for real money donations.
Money drop streams aren’t a new phenomenon in GTA Online. Since players figured out how to mod the game on console and PC, people have been running streams where one player uses a modded account or game to drop free bags of in-game cash for other players. But most of these streams on sites like YouTube aren’t real and instead are created to fool players. These fake streams become more popular before big updates, as fans grind and save up in-game cash to buy all the new goodies the next update will bring.
With the upcoming casino update, players have gone into overdrive. Details about the update released today show many items that could be costly. Recent in-game events have all been focused on giving players big payouts on missions, races, and businesses, which has stoked players’ fears that they’ll need a lot of money to fully enjoy the casino content. This is the perfect environment for scammers.
These scam streams follow similar setups. They promise players across all platforms in-game money if they follow certain directions. These vary from stream to stream, but generally, players are asked to follow one or more social media accounts, subscribe to one or many YouTube accounts, like the stream, follow a fan page and drop their Gamertag or PSN ID into the chat.
Some streams ask viewers to donate real-world money to gain invites to private GTA Online lobbies where they can get in-game money drops. Many of these streamers are trying to get more subscribers and followers, which is why the directions often include warnings that if followers unsubscribe they won’t get the money.
Most of these streams won’t actually reward followers with in-game money. The first red flag is that most of the streams promise to give players across all platforms money. However, GTA Online doesn’t have shared accounts or cross-play, so one lobby can’t possibly payout to players on any platform. Streams that actually give players money instead specify one platform, or they switch lobbies during the stream to other platforms.
Another sign of fake streams is the content of the stream itself. The gameplay is often ripped from other channels or is old footage of players hosting money-dropping events; they aren’t actually live. I saw some gameplay that was clearly from a few weeks ago, because the loading screen mentioned an event from July 3, even though the stream was supposedly happening live on July 15. Other times the gameplay will be GTA V single-player gameplay instead of GTA Online.
Another warning sign can be the length of the streams. One stream I found had been live for nearly 48 hours. Another stream posted on Reddit had been live for nearly a week. Even the most dedicated GTA Online player needs to sleep.
Most of these streams don’t have people commentating over the action or communicating with chat. Some scam streams employ chatbots to interact with fans, but the streamers themselves aren’t active in the chat. Some streams have audio that never mentions the chat and seems to be ripped from another stream to appear more realistic.
In the middle of a weekday afternoon, I found 15 different fake streams live on YouTube alone. On weekends and at night, I found 25 or 30 of these streams. Some have only had three or five viewers, while I’ve seen others with up to 700 viewers.
Many viewers in these streams are frustrated, especially those who have donated money or watched for hours without being invited to the private lobbies the stream promised. In one stream I watched, players complained about not getting invites after donating. “None of these money drops ever work,” one viewer complained. “I donated 2 dollars and still haven’t gotten an invite,” wrote another. “You’re not gonna steal from me are you?” they added. Several suspected the streamer wasn’t even reading the comments.
Luckily, most players I’ve seen have only wasted their time watching these streams and haven’t donated much money to them. But for players looking to make some money fast, don’t fall for these streamers who are willing to take real money donations and give out nothing. Your time is better spent playing missions and completing heists or other in-game activities which will actually reward you with GTA money.