Financial Fraud Using Fake Celebrity Endorsements

The British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued  warning about scams in which criminals use fake celebrity endorsements to promote investments. In a primitive form of Deepfake fraud, scammers’ attempts to lure people into making bogus investments with fake news articles promoting fictional investment advice from celebrities have been foiled by experts keeping the UK safe from cyber-attacks.

Online financial crime is on the increase  in the UK as fraudsters exploit the COVID-19 crisis to deceive victims and steal their money and personal information. During March alone, scam reports shot up by a massive 400%. Meanwhile, Action Fraud figures show losses from coronavirus-themed scams have now surpassed £5m ($6.17m).

Over the last four months, the NCSC has taken down over 300,000 malicious URLs linking to fake celebrity-endorsed investment schemes featuring famous faces such as Sir Richard Branson and Martin Lewis. They’re asking fans to send money for all kinds of supposed reasons – like claiming a prize, donating to a charity, or giving help of some kind. Some celebs do raise money for legitimate causes. But you want to be sure the cause, and the person asking you to support it, are real. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said it has removed over 30,000 malicious links in just four months.

Emails and advertisements encourage people to visit these websites, which have fake news articles about ‘getting rich fast’ which apparently have celebrity endorsements. They are asked to click on a link to “invest”, but the money is really being sent to cyber criminals.

The NCSC said it is taking “unprecedented action” to remove these scams, which are on the rise, from the internet as part of its Active Cyber Defence programme. Cyber-criminal activity cost the UK £197m in 2018 alone

“Celebrity endorsements are just one way criminals can promote bogus schemes online. People should not be fooled by images of luxury items such as expensive watches and cars, and posts on social media showing extravagant lifestyles, which are often used to persuade you to invest....To those of you who might be tempted, remember not every investment opportunity is genuine." Commander Clinton Blackburn, from the City of London Police commented

Criminals will do all they can to make their fraudulent material appear legitimate and if you think you have been the victim of an online fraud in the UK you should immediately report it to Action Fraud.

NCSC:          Yahoo Finance :       Evening Express:     ScamWatch:           Yahoo Sports:  

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