Impersonation Scams are now Using BBC and Currys to Lure Victims; Here's how to Stay Safe

Impersonation Scams are now Using BBC and Currys to Lure Victims; Here's how to Stay Safe
Cover Image Source: Martin Lewis attends the 2023 BAFTA Television Awards | Getty Images | Photo by Karwai Tang | WireImage

The prevalence of fraudulent schemes exploiting the names of well-known individuals and reputable brands continues to pose a significant threat to consumers across various online platforms. Recent reports have highlighted the rampant use of false endorsements from prominent figures like Martin Lewis and bogus advertisements impersonating established retailers such as Currys, all designed to deceive unsuspecting victims.

One notable example involves the misuse of Martin Lewis's name by fraudsters to promote dubious investment platforms. Research by Which? found a scam advert on X (formerly Twitter) that led to a fake BBC website where Lewis's name was being used by fraudsters to promote Quantum AI, a crypto fast money platform. A note was added beneath the advert by the platform with a warning that said, "This is yet another crypto scam using celebrities". The advert remained live in spite of the warning. The proliferation of such scams underscores the inadequacy of current safeguards in place to protect users from deceptive advertising practices, per Yahoo!Finance.

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Martin Lewis seen at the BBC on April 23, 2018 in London, England | GettyImages | Photo by Simon James | GC Images
Martin Lewis seen at the BBC on April 23, 2018 in London, England | Getty Images | Photo by Simon James | GC Images

 

Social media platforms such as Facebook (now known as META), Instagram, TikTok, and X, have become breeding grounds for a wide range of fraudulent activities, including investment scams, counterfeit product listings, and phishing schemes. These platforms have failed to effectively police their advertising networks, allowing malicious actors to exploit their reach and target unsuspecting consumers with impunity.

Copycat adverts impersonating well-known retailers like Currys, River Island, and Marks & Spencer are meant to lure victims to counterfeit websites where their personal and financial information may be compromised. An advert impersonating electrical retailer, Currys on Facebook and Instagram, put out a false sales offer, announcing, "90% off on a wide range of products." It was a scam to lure in shoppers and take them to a different website. Despite the imminent implementation of the Online Safety Act, which aims to hold online platforms accountable for harmful content, the lack of proactive measures to combat scam advertisements remains a pressing concern.

Meta | Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Meta | Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

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Search engines like Google and Bing have also come under scrutiny for hosting scam adverts, further exacerbating the challenge of ensuring online safety for consumers. Even with the impending regulatory changes, online platforms have been slow to address the proliferation of fraudulent content, highlighting the need for more robust enforcement mechanisms and proactive measures to combat online scams.

Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Which?, has called for urgent action to address the epidemic of fraud plaguing the UK. She emphasizes the importance of implementing stringent codes of conduct and appointing a dedicated fraud minister to coordinate efforts in combating online scams effectively. Without concerted action from regulators, online platforms, and law enforcement agencies, consumers will remain vulnerable to exploitation by fraudsters operating in the digital realm.

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Innocent people losing money to deceptive scammers is such a sad situation as it their hard-earned money and for scammers it just money|Pexels
Innocent people losing money to deceptive scammers (representative image) | Pexels

 

In response to these concerns, online platforms must prioritize the safety and security of their users by implementing robust measures to detect and remove fraudulent content promptly. This includes deploying advanced algorithms, employing human moderators, and collaborating with industry partners and law enforcement agencies to identify and disrupt fraudulent schemes effectively. Ultimately, addressing the scourge of online fraud requires a coordinated effort involving government agencies, law enforcement, regulatory bodies, and tech companies.

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