There are pages and pages of scam videos on YouTube, advertising access to OnlyFans content for free if you follow a few steps to "unlock" or "hack" so-called "premium" accounts.
Most of these videos started appearing on YouTube about three months ago, right around when OnlyFans started marketing itself as a way to make some cash during unprecedented levels of unemployment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A month earlier, a "leak" of stolen content from OnlyFans rattled the sex worker community, as a database of videos that were previously behind paid subscription accounts went viral online.
These videos, which instruct users to download and interact with app for a certain time in exchange for access to OnlyFans that never materializes, follow a playbook that targets whatever happens to be popular online. For a while, Fortnite-themed scams for getting free in-game currency by the same method were popular on YouTube. Now that OnlyFans has exploded in popularity as people flocked to the platform for income and entertainment during the pandemic, it's the new scam du jour, and YouTube is full of videos claiming viewers can access subscription OnlyFans content with a few simple steps.
Motherboard noticed one of these videos in our YouTube Home page as a paid promotion, meaning the creator of the video paid YouTube to increase its reach on the platform. The title of the video was "Learn How To Get OnlyFans Premium Account," and the thumbnail pitched it as a "Only Fans Hack." YouTube removed the video, which had over a million views at the time, after we contacted the company for comment, citing the platform's policies for scam content, which forbid posting videos "promising money, products, software, or gaming perks for free if viewers install software, download an app, or perform other tasks."
Motherboard was able to find dozens of similar scam videos still on YouTube. Using the search term "OnlyFans hack," seven were uploaded in the last 24 hours alone, but they appear under several variations of "free," "hacked," and "2020" with differing videos of the same scam.
The scam usually involves telling viewers to go to a specific URL for "injection" (it's not clear what this means) or to begin the process by going to a page that directs them to download multiple random apps or "offers" that are unrelated to OnlyFans. They're then told to open and tap around on the apps. From there, the scam videos usually skip to the end, showing the host on an OnlyFans account page with subscriber-only content unlocked. If it shows this step at all, the video cuts so you can't see how they got there.
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None of these actually give you OnlyFans content for free, OnlyFans "premium" doesn't even exist, but appears to be a term YouTubers are using to mean individual models' subscription-only content. The scams are likely designed to boost app downloads. Motherboard tested the steps in one of the scam videos and confirmed that we did not in fact get free OnlyFans content or "hack" OnlyFans.
The popularity of these videos indicate just how mainstream OnlyFans has become in recent months, and how despite growing demand, many users will still go to great lengths to avoid paying sex workers for their labor.
Joseph Cox contributed reporting to this piece.