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A recent local report in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) describes a new cryptocurrency fraud on Facebook that pretended to be nothing less than the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. The scammers did not just stop there, but went further to claim that they will be helping investors to gain large profits from trading Bitcoin.
Apparently, the scam did succeed in tricking many unsuspecting users by using the crown prince name as well as his multiple titles such as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and claiming that he had earlier invited people to invest in a crypto scheme (whose cost is Dh1,000 or about $270) that would make them rich within seven days of investment.
An endorsement by the crown prince himself was more than enough for thousands of people to immediately get lured into the Bitcoin scheme whilst interested participants did not mind sharing their phone numbers as well as email addresses with these criminals.
Accordingly to the report, Facebook ultimately decided to act after many submitted complaints by deleting the crypto scam’s page that was operating from both Argentina and Ukraine. The page had operated freely for weeks, and apparently as a Facebook ad as well, before it was finally shut down.
While all the investigation is still ongoing, finding out all the details about this fraudulent activity, citizens have been advised to check the genuineness of any campaign they come across. These kind of shady campaigns usually ask for either donations or pledges, while they usually operate online and on social media platforms without an actual physical location.
How the Crypto Fraudsters Operated
As expected, first of all they made use of a promotional post (advertisement) that aided in directing people to the fake story which was clearly unsolicited in the news feed of UAE residents.
This post had the crown prince’s picture and was marked as being sponsored. Also, it included a fake quote which was surely not real, yet it claimed to be made by the crown prince saying that the Bitcoin scheme was actually his way of giving back to his beloved people. The scam also directed users via links to other scams, which unsuspecting victims did not only like or comment on, but they also went further to share the post on Facebook, increasing the scope of the fraud.
After Facebook brought the page down, the government of Abu Dhabi made its own responsible move to educate and remind its citizens that they will need to be much more cautious of fraud, especially those that take place on the web. Residents were also urged to verify whatever information that comes their way by checking with some official channels before responding and investing in such schemes.
A digital marketing expert based in Dubai said he was surprised at the way people responded to the scam without suspecting a thing. He has been residing in Dubai for roughly two years, and he also made mention of Facebook stepping up in being more vigilant with every content the social network promotes.
Everything about the scheme was fake, including the name of the author that told readers his success story of making Dh26,000 within three days. Instead of the picture of Michael Alvarado (the person who claims to be the writer), the picture he used was that of a United States based freelance journalist known as Timothy Seppala.
This is not the first time that crypto fraudsters use the name of celebrities and known figures to entice users. Previously, the name and photos of renowned actor William Shatner , famous tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and even New Zealand’s Prime Minister were exploited to promote similar cryptocurrency scams.