A massive bitcoin ad scam campaign – featuring celebrities and mostly targeted Australians – has been tracked down. The survey’s findings point to a “highly organized” global corporation relying on five addresses in central Moscow.
Huge Bitcoin Ad Scam Campaign Traced To Russia
According to The Guardian, the scale of the scam campaign has made it difficult for Google, Facebook, or Australia’s financial watchdogs to remove the thousands of ads displayed on the Internet. The ads often feature Australian celebrities such as Dick Smith, Andrew Forrest and Chris Hemsworth, among others.
The sites have been operating on news media style websites since at least 2018. The coronavirus pandemic has also boosted the flow of victims due to the lockdowns in many countries around the world, the report said.
Such fraudulent sites provide investment opportunities for bitcoin through a fake news story that acts as a bait and links to a crypto investment plan endorsed by a celebrity.
Once people have submitted their personal information to join the scheme, they will receive a call asking them to initially deposit $ 250 and later raise them, with false promises of high returns. The same is done in other countries around the world, with local TV celebrities – for example, in Sweden, the well-known TV presenter Filip Hammar often appears in these advertisements.
One of the testimonials in The Guardian’s investigation revealed that a 77-year-old grandmother from Queensland, Australia, was attracted to a bitcoin “investment opportunity” via a Facebook ad featuring Waleed Aly, a popular Australian TV host.
She initially received a call from a man with an English accent, and she initially deposited $ 5,000 BTC via a crypto exchange. However, the scam escalated to the point that she managed to transfer up to $ 80,000 to the scammers.
While all the websites surveyed were registered through outside companies hiding the identities of the real owners, The Guardian found five names that had registered “hundreds” of fake sites from addresses in Moscow. Similar celebrity scams were also traced to Kiev, Ukraine.
Dealing with Bitcoin scam advertising is not an easy task, say social media platforms
The report indicates that both Google and Facebook have struggled at all scam ads ran through their platforms, and a spokeswoman for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission confirmed such issues:
In some cases we have been able to trace these advertisements, most of which appear to be based abroad, despite the fact that they give the impression that they are operating from Australia by using local addresses and telephone numbers on their websites. Any information we have collected does not disclose it.
In a warning published On August 14, 2020, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center said they have removed more than 300,000 sites linked to fake celebrity-approved investment schemes – including bitcoin schemes – also featuring British celebrities such as Richard Branson and Martin Lewis.
Do you think fake celebrity-endorsed bitcoin investment schemes will continue to increase in 2021? Let us know in the comments below.
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