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It’s not new that crypto scammers are using fake photos and endorsements of celebrities in order to allure unaware consumers who would be captivated by the celeb’s stardom (did someone say William Shatner?). Yet, even for an industry that is filled with such blatant swindles, a recent scam managed to stand out with a display of flagrant shamelessness.
It seems that tricksters from New Zealand were audacious enough to falsely employ the likeness of New Zealand’s prime minister so they could peddle their crypto assets.
According to the news site Stuff, scammers were posting ads on Facebook, displaying the image of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as if she had endorsed the advertised page, and even targeting specific age groups. Here’s an example of such a fraudulent ad on Facebook:
And it gets even better (or worse)… once a user clicked on the ad, he was redirected to a fake CNN page which indicated that the government of New Zealand had supposedly invested in a crypto startup that referred to itself as “the Bitcoin Revolution.” Here’s how the fake CNN article looked like:
When Stuff discovered the scam and informed the prime minister’s office, the latter reported it to Facebook, which in turn finally removed the fraudulent ad. Stuff also notes that this is not the first politician from New Zealand whose portrait was misused for Bitcoin scams; photos of former Prime Minister John Key were also deceitfully used in the past on Facebook and Twitter.
The spokeswoman of Prime Minister Ardern released the following statement:
Unfortunately this seems to be happening more regularly and highlights why social media platforms like Facebook need to remain vigilant about shutting down the fake news that shows up on their sites.
This is an excellent point. How could Facebook approve the ad of such a glaring scam? In June, Facebook lifted its partial ban on crypto, but that doesn’t negate its responsibility to monitor fraudulent advertising on its platform.
This is not the only recent crypto scam in New Zealand that attracted some headlines. Last month, New Zealand’s police issued a special warning, informing citizens not to engage in fishy online ventures while particularly referencing Bitcoin schemes.