Large-scale Bitcoin advertising scam activities have been tracked, including celebrities and mainly targeting Australians. The survey results show that “highly organized” global operations rely on five locations in the center of Moscow.
Large-scale Bitcoin advertising fraud can be traced back to Russia
According to the “Guardian” report, the scale of the fraudulent activities makes it difficult for Google, Facebook or Australia’s financial regulators to withdraw thousands of advertisements deployed on the Internet. These ads often feature Australian celebrities such as Dick Smith, Andrew Forrest, and Chris Hemsworth.
The website has been operating on a news media style website since at least 2018. The report stated that the coronavirus pandemic is also driving the movement of victims due to blockades in many countries around the world.
Such fraudulent websites provide bitcoin investment opportunities through false news reports that act as bait and provide links to celebrity-approved crypto investment schemes.
Once people submit their personal information to join the program, they will receive a call asking them to deposit $250 before adding the money, with false promises of high-yield returns. The same is true in other countries/regions of the world. These events have attracted local TV celebrities. For example, in Sweden, these ads usually feature the famous TV presenter Filip Hammar.
A testimony in the Guardian investigation revealed that a 77-year-old grandmother from Queensland, Australia advertised a Bitcoin “investment opportunity” through a Facebook ad, which was published by Waleed, a popular Australian TV host On Aly.
She initially received a call from a man with an English accent and initially deposited $5,000 worth of BTC through a cryptocurrency exchange. However, the scam escalated to the point where she managed to transfer up to $80,000 to the scam.
Although all the investigated websites were registered through third-party companies that conceal the identity of their true owners, the Guardian found that five names had registered “hundreds” of fake websites, which belonged to Moscow. Similarly, similar celebrity-based investment scams can be traced back to Kiev, Ukraine.
Social media platforms claim that dealing with Bitcoin scam ads is no easy task
The report details that both Google and Facebook are working to eliminate all fraudulent advertisements spread through their platforms. A spokesperson for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission confirmed these difficulties:
In some cases, even though the use of local addresses and phone numbers on their websites gave the impression that they were operating in Australia, we were still able to track these advertisements, most of which appeared to be located overseas. None of the data we collect will be made public.
In the alert issued on August 14, 2020, the National Cyber Security Centre of the United Kingdom stated that they have deleted more than 300,000 websites related to investment schemes approved by fake celebrities (including Bitcoin schemes), which also include Richard British celebrities such as De Branson and Martin Lewis.
Do you think that Bitcoin investment plans approved by fake celebrities will continue to increase in 2021? Let us know in the comments section below.
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