On Tuesday morning, YouTube accounts for prominent musicians started posting unusual music videos. Artists including Lil Nas X, Eminem, Drake, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, The Weeknd, Michael Jackson, Kanye West, and others appeared to post videos with bizarre clips and odd titles on their YouTube channels. Some had the phrase “hacked by @lospelaosbro” in their titles, while others referenced American rapper Lil Tjay.
The videos were uploaded over the course of several hours. The cringey music videos featured a person that The Verge identified as Paco Sanz.
Sanz is a Spanish man sentenced to two years in jail after defrauding large amounts of money between 2010 and 2017. According to El Mundo, the 51-year-old security guard said in 2009 that he’d been diagnosed with Cowden Syndrome in 2009 and publicly stated that he couldn’t afford to treat the rare disease. He later asked for donations and founded a charity, but allegedly he spent those donations on high-end travel and cars. He was sentenced to two years in a Spanish prison. He does not appear to be involved in this hacking.
A community of hackers — When the @lospelaosbro Twitter account posted a link to a Telegram group on Wednesday evening, I joined. The chat had several hundred people and communication happened in both English and Spanish. People sent memes, made jokes, and said things like “I want a Bored Ape” and “hack BTS next” and “make the world freak out.” After less than twenty minutes, the group disappeared.
At this point, the hacker has not been confirmed and the techniques used to access the celebrity YouTube accounts are unclear.
Vevo is working on it — A Vevo spokesperson told The Verge that “some videos were directly uploaded to a small number of Vevo artist channels earlier today by an unauthorized source” and that “no pre-existing content was accessible to the source.” The company added that the accounts are now secured, but “as a best practice Vevo will be conducting a review of our security systems.”
Previous celebrity hacks — Vevo was previously the victim of a prominent hack in 2018, when the then-most-viewed YouTube video of all time, “Despacito” was removed. In the summer of 2020, a 17-year-old used SIM swapping to access (and post from) the Twitter accounts of Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama.