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Facebook Bitcoin Scammers Target Aussie Celebs to Con Investors

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:43 PM
Chris Chiddle
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:43 PM

Fraudsters and Facebook are profiting from scam ads featuring photos of popular Australian TV hosts that convince unwary Aussies to part with their cash and invest in bitcoin.

You might expect this scam on an obscure internet chat room, maybe on the darknet, but nope, con-artists are using the world’s most popular social media platform and one of its biggest ad platforms to do it – and as far as Facebook is concerned it’s OK by them.

The scammers doctored photos of TV presenters Karl Stefanovic and Waleed Aly in a fictional news segment on popular evening talk show The Project, where Stefanovic tells Aly how much he is making by using Bitcoin Trader.

Facebook profits as Bitcoin scammers
Source: Facebook / Outline

Maximizing the con

After creating fake Facebook pages the scammers pay the social media giant to promote their posts as widely as possible, to maximize views and rip-off as many people as they can.

One of the sponsored posts said:

The Project co-host Waleed Aly was left in disbelief as Stefanovic pulled out his phone and showed viewers how much money he’s making through this new money-making program that now has everyone in Australia whispering.

The scammers also falsified quotes from Stefanovic, in which he says:

It’s the single biggest opportunity I’ve seen in my entire lifetime to build a small fortune. I urge everyone to check this out before the banks shut it down.

After the fake ads were reported to the social media giant they said the scam doesn’t breach their terms or conditions, and that the complaint was “rejected, with the platform saying the advert was acceptable”, a report  says.

Facebook profits as Bitcoin scammers
Source: Facebook / Outline

This is despite the fact its guidelines say that it does not allow “deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or business practices”.

The fraudsters posted Facebook-approved ads as recently as Tuesday, encouraging people to invest a minimum of $250, and “guarantees” them a return 10 times bigger, within weeks.

We’ve been here before

Just days ago on CCN.com, we reported on a New York fraudster who faces 20 years imprisonment for another Facebook crypto scam.

Patrick McDonnell AKA “Jason Flack” was charged with nine counts  of allegedly convincing others to invest in crypto through Facebook and Twitter.

Further back, in 2017, scammers used fake testimonies from billionaire businessmen Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Richard Branson  to con investors.

While UK personal finance expert, Martin Lewis, was embroiled in a year-long legal battle with the social media giant, because they failed to stop scammers using his photos in more than 1,000 fraudulent adverts for a bitcoin “investment” opportunity.

Lewis eventually won the legal battle and Facebook donated $5.5 million to a scam-watch website.