Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest has started criminal proceedings against him Facebook For not taking action against fraudulent advertisements in which his image appeared. Investigation guardian About Fraudulent Ads reveals how the scam works and what ads look like.

What are fraudulent ads?

Ads appear on Facebook or news sites as “automated ads” provided by Google. Automated ads target specific users.

These ads use images of celebrities or other well-known people in the target areas, such as Forrest or Dick Smith in Australia. The announcements come as news that the celebrity has made a “big investment” and that the banks were surprised by the good result.

A fake news website used for fraudulent advertisements. Photo: screenshot

If a user clicks on the ad, it will take them to a fake news story that includes a link that claims to be fake. Cryptocurrency investment plan. If the user enters data to enroll in the plan, he receives a phone call that is usually asked to invest a small amount, say $250. You are then asked to invest larger and larger amounts.

In one case previously reported by Guardian Australia, a 77-year-old grandmother from Queensland clicked on a Facebook ad featuring a picture of Forrest. She initially transferred $5,000 to a cryptocurrency exchange before encouraging her to deposit more of her money. In the end, The scammers emptied his accounts and stole his $80,000 in savings. He was not able to get his money back.

Some scams tempt people to invest in risky and often unregulated forex trading platforms where they are likely to lose most or even all of their money. The worst scams encourage people to hand over more and more money in an effort to get their initial investment back, which leads to more losses.

a International investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project You mentioned that the contact details of people registered with these services were also sent to brokers offering other risky or illegal investments.

These scams increased during the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why are these ads so hard to stop?

The normal way to stop these types of ads is to either block the webpage you’re hosting, or search for specific “keywords” in the ad text and block them from using them. Google indicated in 2019 that it removed about 5,000 ads per minute, or about 2.7 billion ads per year.

However, it is a game of cat and mouse. Scammers often change the ad text to avoid hijacking and to avoid domain blocking. With a variety of domain registrars, every month they purchase hundreds of domain names to host pages that users are taken to when they click ads.

If the user visits fraudulent web pages outside the target site, it may appear that they are harmless cooking, gardening or fruit sites.

Who is behind the ads?

A Guardian Australia investigation found that hundreds of these sites were registered under just five names, All with addresses in the center of Moscow.

None of the individuals listed on the registration forms responded to attempts to contact them.

like that It is possible that scams are carried out from UkraineA, since fraudulent pages do not allow people to register a form with a phone number in that country. A previous OCCRP investigation revealed a call center The management of similar investment scams is based on celebrities and operates from Kiev, the capital of the country.

Did the regulators do anything about it?

In Australia, regulators have acknowledged the difficulty of tracking down and stopping such scams. A spokesperson for the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission said they tracked the ads overseas. ACCC was able to remove a number of web pages by contacting domain providers.

Greater success has been achieved in the UK, thanks in large part to the dedicated website where the public can report suspected scam sites. The country’s cybersecurity agency has removed more than 731,000 scam sites involving celebrities between April and December 2020.