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YouTube Subscriber Count Manipulation: 6 Ultimate Ways to Spot Them in 2024 (+ Free Tools!)

By Leah Clark Last updated: 15 minute read Influencer MarketingMarketing Guides

Fake subscribers on YouTube are way more common than you’d think! YouTube creators want an easy way to grow their channel and gain traction so they purchase subscribers and views.

YouTube channel owners and creators are fighting tough competition to win over subscribers and maximize their engagement rates.
You may be considering partnering with a YouTube channel or creating your own on this huge platform with over 2 billion users. In both cases, it’s best to avoid working with fake accounts at all costs.
We have the best and easiest ways to check if a YouTube channel has fake followers. We also have proven strategies for gaining and growing genuine followers on this social media platform for you.

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    Quick Comparison: Best Paid & Free YouTube Auditing Tools

    Here is a quick comparison of the best tools for auditing YouTube channels and influencers:

    Best YouTube Auditing Tools

    YouTube Auditing Features


    Our P2P Rating 


    In-depth YouTube channel analysis for authencitity, performance, audience insights, fake follower detection, brand affility and more.

    • Free Trial: 7 Days

    • Custom: From $98/m

    • Basic: $134/m

    • Professional: $278/m

    • Business: $558/m

    Billed Yearly. Monthly Plans Available.



    YouTube channel and influencer auditing and analysis for authencitity, fraud detection and brand affinity using AI and over 35 different metrics.

    • Free Forever

    • Custom Packages

    • Paid Add-ons



    YouTube channel audit tools, as well as real-time analytics, and a tool to compare YouTube channel views.

    • Free Forever

    • Basic: $19/m

    • Pro: $7.50/m

    • Boost: $39/m

    • Max: $79/m



    Advanced influencer analysis features and fake follower checking. Audience analysis, performance tracking and detailed reporting.

    • Custom Pricing



    YouTube channel auditing for audience authenticity and engagement rates.

    • Free Trial

    • Basic: $19/m

    • Advanced: $49/m

    Keep scrolling for the full reviews and more info on each tool!

    The Rise of Subscriber Fraud

    Starting and growing a YouTube channel takes a lot of hard work and time. But many channels take shortcuts. If you do a quick search, endless online YouTube subscriber-buying services claim to provide instant and real subscribers for a fee. Some services take a step further and provide bot-generated YouTube subscribers at an even lower cost. AI technologies make these bots more real than ever.

    Organic growth on this social platform is slow. It takes about 2 to 3 months to gain as few as 100 YouTube subscribers. Of course, more money and powerful YouTube marketing tactics can achieve faster results. Yet, these fake services’ affordable prices can be tempting in comparison.

    Besides having a large subscriber count, some channels buy subscribers for social proof, particularly “Wisdom of the Crowd”.  This stems from the consumer psychology that people are likelier to follow or purchase from brands with a large follower count.

    The Top Reasons For Subscriber Count Manipulation

    Here are some of the common reasons YouTube channels purchase fake views and subscribers.

    1.Make YouTube Videos Go Viral

    Creating a viral video is far from easy. Usually, viral videos are simple and successfully tap into your target audience’s needs and personality. But again, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

    A quick way to achieve this is through fake engagement on YouTube. As mentioned before, when people see a video with millions of views, they’re more likely to watch it.

    Deceiving organic users like this can help YouTube channels get their videos in front of many more people. Or at least, many creators believe so.

    2.Get YouTube Videos on the Trends List

    Like making their videos go viral, YouTube channels purchase subscriber bots to get on the trend list. When users see videos on this list, they want to view them to get in on the action. But compared to how many dire disadvantages this scheme has (I’ll get into that shortly) it’s not worth trying.

    trending videos to get fake YouTube subscribersSource:

    3.Secure Brand Collaborations

    Businesses, like yours, want to collab with successful YouTube channels with lots of views and subscribers. That’s the entire point of working with a YouTube channel. Many creators want to secure these collabs without investing the time and effort like other legitimate YouTube channels.

    Sadly many brands get caught in this trap because they don’t know how to identify fake followers.

    4.Amplify Their Profits

    With all the reasons we reviewed, this would ultimately lead to them gaining more conversions. This means more money. So users would start supporting a YouTube channel without knowing their subscribers and views are fake.

    Once the YouTube channel has engaged them, they can move these users through their sales funnel and eventually get them to buy their products or services.

    Source: greenbaywacky

    The Best Paid & Free YouTube Auditing Tools to Detect Fraud

    It’s always an excellent idea to propose auditing a YouTube channel before working together. Many free online YouTube auditing tools can determine how legitimate a channel is. Plus, these tools will also give you an accurate idea of how well the YouTube channel is performing.

    Here are the top YouTube auditing tools:


    Influencity is a leading influencer marketing platform for end-to-end influencer management, from discovery and analysis to campaign management, performance reporting, and more.

    One of Influencity’s greatest strengths is the quality of the influencers in their global database and the quality of their influencer analysis algorithms.

    Influencity allows you to analyze any YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram profile.

    The comprehensive data includes a detailed audience analysis covering everything from demographics to the percentage of dubious followers or subscribers.


    • Free Trial: 7 Days
    • Custom: Bundles from $98/m*
    • Basic: $134/m*
    • Professional: $278/m*
    • Business: $558/m*

    *Billed yearly


    Screenshot of Influencity's Influencer analysis landing page


    HypeAuditor is a SaaS company that offers a full-cycle influencer marketing solution. While HypeAuditor provides services for every stage of influencer marketing, from discovery to campaign management and market analysis, the platform’s influencer analysis tools are a stand-out feature.

    It uses over 35 metrics to evaluate YouTube influencers for follower/audience authenticity, fraud detection, and brand affinity. This means every influencer you work with is guaranteed to be the real deal!

    HypeAudtor offers a free forever plan, as well as customized paid packages and add-ons, so you can get exactly what you need and only pay for those features. Their website also offers excellent tools like a free YouTube Money Calculator and a free YouTube Audit and Analyzer tool. They also have auditing solutions for Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, etc., and AI-powered content tools.


    • Free forever plan 
    • Custom paid packages and add-ons to suit your specific needs 


    Screenshot of the HypeAuditor YouTube Tool Landing Page


    This platform offers a YouTube channel audit tool and more features for competitor research, keyword research, generating YouTube channel thumbnails, and productivity tools to optimize your workflow.

    Businesses can also find an AI-powered tool for content ideas, a trend alert to help keep your content relevant, real-time YouTube analytics, and a tool to compare YouTube channel views. While vidIQ doesn’t have a free trial, there’s a free plan available and various paid plans to suit small and medium businesses.


    • Basic Plan: $19 p/m
    • Pro Plan: $7.50 p/m
    • Boost Plan: $39 p/m
    • Max Plan: $79 p/m


    VidiQ_YouTube Audit Tools


    Upfluence is a comprehensive, all-in-one influencer marketing platform that allows you to run seamless influencer campaigns from end to end.

    It offers everything from an extensive database of verified influencers to social listening features, organic influencer and brand ambassador identification, advanced analytics and reporting, and robust integration options.

    It is an excellent option for e-commerce brands and integrates directly with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce & Adobe Commerce.

    Upfluence offers in-depth influencer analysis and fake follower checks that help you identify the best YouTube influencers for your campaigns, track their performance, and measure your ROI.  



    Upfluence Hopmepage


    TubeRanker offers a wide range of social media tools besides its YouTube account audit tool. You can audit a YouTube channel by inserting the channel’s URL, and then bam! You’ll find out whether the subscribers are legit and the channel’s performance.

    You don’t have to pay for TubeRanker or register to do this either. However, for unlimited channel audits and more tools, you can join one of the cost-effective plans. TubeRanker also provides a 14-day free trial.


    • Basic Plan: $19 p/m
    • Advanced Plan: $49 p/m


    TubeRanker_YouTube Audit Tools

    6 Easy Ways to Manually Check for Inflated Subscriber Numbers

    If you’re considering partnering with a YouTube channel, request vital information on the data and analytics of that channel. Having this data is will help you determine the channel’s performance and how it can be of value to your brand. Also, this data will reveal how legitimate the followers are.

    Here are the best ways. 

    1.Check the Comments on YouTube Videos

    Do this before reaching out to the YouTube channel you want to partner with. Go through as many videos as possible and check the comments section. If the comments are random or unrelated to the video, those are most likely bot accounts.

    Comments from fake YouTube subscribers
    Source: Tech Ten

    2.Number of Views vs. Subscriber Count

    Another quick way to check is to check the views on a few videos. If you consistently notice that the view count is less than 5% of the subscriber count, this is often a sign of manipulation.

    However, you must check this for many videos and not just one or two. Sometimes the number of views can be low due to poor quality content or content that doesn’t accurately capture subscribers’ attention.

    But if you notice less than 5% of subscribers view videos more often than not, it’s safe to assume these subscribers are fake.

    3.Number of Views on Recent Videos vs. Pinned Videos

    Another quick and easy giveaway that tells you whether a YouTube channel has fake followers is the number of views on the recently uploaded videos compared to pinned videos. 

    Usually, with subscriber bots, the pinned videos have a hell of a lot of views. However, the most recent videos would have a much smaller amount. If you notice this about the YouTube channel you’re considering, understand those viewers are fake right off the bat! 

    4.Review Viewer Traffic Sources

    Ask the channel you want to work with to see their viewer traffic sources for videos and subscriber traffic sources. Typical and legitimate YouTube traffic sources include:

    • Suggested videos
    • Search
    • Browse features
    • Playlists

    But if you notice unrecognizable traffic sources, this is a red flag. You can double-check this through a quick Google search. More often than not, the subscribers are mostly bought. 


    YouTube traffic sources

    5.Check Video Views vs. Watch Time Hours

    Watch time hours are paramount when determining a YouTube channel’s success. Enquire about this data when considering working with a YouTube channel. If the video views are high and the watch time hours are unreasonably low, it indicates bots.

    Bots often watch a channel’s video to contribute to their viewer count. However, because these subscribers are most likely not even interested in the content, they won’t watch the whole video or most of it. 

    6.Check Video Views vs. Engagements

    Like the point above, the primary objective of subscriber count boosting tactics is to increase the view count. Because of this, when a channel has fake subscribers, the number of views is much higher than the engagement rates.

    Organic subscribers engage with videos they’re interested in. And they’ll likely provide feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. But bots don’t have that same interest. They’re not obligated to engage with the video once viewing it.

    Check the likes, dislikes, comments, and shares compared to a video’s views. If it’s a significant difference, the channel most likely has youtube subscriber bots.

    The Risks of Purchase YouTube Subscriber Buying Services

    YouTube Considers This A Subscriber Fraud

    Many channels justify buying bots because YouTube allows promotional activities for boosting your channel. However, YouTube is entirely against buying fake followers. Here’s a clause from YouTube’s policies that proves this:

    YouTube doesn’t allow anything that artificially increases the number of views, likes, comments, or other metrics either by using automatic systems or serving up videos to unsuspecting viewers. Also, content that solely exists to incentivize viewers for engagement (views, likes, comments, etc) is prohibited.

    Content and channels that don’t follow this policy may be terminated and removed from YouTube.

    And also…

    We consider engagement to be legitimate when a human user’s primary intent is to authentically interact with the content. We consider engagement illegitimate, for example, when it results from coercion or deception, or when the sole purpose of the engagement is financial gain.

    Buying bots is directly deceiving YouTube users, because most of the time, these fake followers are bot accounts.

    If you partner with a fraudulent channel, this may quickly put you in trouble with YouTube. Don’t take the chance and have your channel banned because of this.

    Your Chances of Retaining These Subscribers are Low

    Channels inflate engagement, not loyalty. Because of this, after buying subscribers, the chances they’re going to stay subscribed to your channel for weeks or months to come is low. And if your channel has a low retention rate, it makes it harder to show up in YouTube’s search results.

    You Can’t Get Much Engagement Beyond Views

    Some channels also purchase higher-tier packages that include views. However, these bots aren’t going to offer more beyond that. So how legitimate do you think it will look to YouTube and its users if a channel has 3700 subscribers but 200 views? I think it wouldn’t look real at all!

    You’ll Scare Off Potential Partnerships

    While the scheme will attract brand partnerships, it can do the exact opposite. Once a brand notices your subscribers and views are fake, this will damage your YouTube reputation and give businesses a reason not to partner with you. However, if you’ve developed and grown your subscribers organically, it’s an impressive achievement that will prove to your audience and potential partners how valuable your brand is.

    How to Secure Legitimate YouTube Subscribers

    Now that we’ve explained why YouTube channels opt for fake followers, the risks involved, and how to identify them, it’s only fitting we cover how to engage real subscribers.

    1.Engage Directly with Viewers and Existing Subscribers

    When I say you should engage directly with your viewers and existing subscribers, this is what I mean:

    • Respond to comments on your YouTube videos. Doing this shows you care about feedback from your viewers, and you want to take the time to thank them or answer their questions.
    • Ask your viewers to subscribe. Every one of the successful YouTube channels I watch always asks viewers to subscribe. Find fun and innovative ways to do this, and use fun icons like a popup subscription sign while you ask viewers. When you ask your viewers to subscribe this is your call-to-action (CTA). But be careful not to overdo this because it will annoy your viewers and seem pushy. Typically, the best time to ask viewers to subscribe is at the start and end of your videos.
    • Ask viewers what they think about your video’s subject matter. It’s an excellent and effective approach to ask viewers for opinions on what your video covered, or if they have anything to contribute. For example, you’re reviewing two email marketing tools, and you decided that tool B was better. Ask your viewers if they agree. If they don’t, why not, or if they know a better alternative than tool B.
    • Ask viewers what they want to see. There’s no better to promote audience-centric content than to get suggestions directly from your viewers. Ask them what they’d like to hear you talk about next and use this to inspire future content.
    Youtube comments to avoid fake YouTube subscribers

    Engaging with your viewers directly will help you optimize your YouTube engagement rates. It will also help you develop a loyal community of subscribers as you’re building a relationship between your subscribers and your channel. 

    2.Define a Posting Schedule and Stick to It

    Being consistent is key whether you’re using YouTube or any other social channel. People want consistency, and this will also help you develop a stronger presence on YouTube’s platform. To get started you should:

    • Find a content calendar and automated posting tool. Many tools have an integrated calendar.
    • Define the best times to post based on your audience engagement times.
    • Plan your content with your content calendar and schedule it with your posting tool.
    • Run A/B tests to determine the best times to promote your YouTube content.

    If you know you may not be able to create content in the next few days, then create all the content you need beforehand. 

    3.Determine and Leverage a Subscriber Magnet.

    Your subscriber magnet will be your video that has generated the most subscribers in the last month.  When you’re considering lead magnet ideas for YouTube, this is a top choice. You can find this video in your YouTube analytics dashboard. When you’re looking at the dashboard’s homepage, click on the “Subscribers” button and then click “See More”.

    Use this video because you already know your subscribers love the content. So, if you can promote a video you know your subscribers love, you’re bound to generate more. 

    Now, look through your analytics to determine which video has secured the most subscribers. After doing this you can use this video to optimize your YouTube channel by:

    • Promoting it on your end screen.
    • Using that video as the first of a playlist.
    • Promoting that video on YouTube cards.

    Use this video because you already know your subscribers love the content. So, if you can promote a video you know your subscribers love, you’re bound to generate more. 


    Subscriber count manipulations are more common than we’d like to believe. YouTube content creators opt for buying subscribers because it’s easier to generate more traction for their channels, they can make their channel seem established for brand collabs and eventually, gain more profits.

    However, there are too many dire risks associated. For one, this is against YouTube’s policies and can lead to this site banning your account. Fortunately, by using our 7 tips, you can seamlessly spot fraud before working with them.

    Although it takes more time and effort, there are many ways you can grow your YouTube channel. And besides, you won’t run the risk of having your brand’s image compromised on YouTube. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you manipulate subscriber counts on YouTube?

    Many YouTube channels opt to do so to make their videos go viral, motivate users to join, secure brand collabs and generate more money. However, this practice can negatively impact your account and lead to YouTube banning it. It's best to put in the hard work and gain organic subscribers.

    Is inflating subscriber counts illegal on YouTube?

    While you can't go to prison for buying them, it's against YouTube's policies. YouTube allows creators to buy promotional activities but it doesn't support buying anything that will deceive its users.

    How can you tell if a YouTube channel inflates engagement?

    The best ways ways to tell is to do an audit on the channel. There are many free online tools for this. You should also check if the views vs. engagement rates are significantly different and if the video comments are unrelated or random. Read our article to know how to determine fakes and how to grow your channel quickly through legitimate views and subscribers.

    How do you check fakes on other platforms?

    Many of the auditing tools reviewed also extend to other popular platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, TikTok. Interesting, Facebook has its native tool "Audience Insights" to check fakes on its social network.

    References How Many YouTube Channels Are There?

    Backlinko: How Many People Use YouTube in 2023? [New Data]