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New scam, specializing in trapping victims through social networks

New scam, specializing in trapping victims through social networks - Photo 1.

Brenilyn Ayachock posted a clip showing an online charger filled with sand. Photo: AFP

The AFP news agency’s information-checking team has discovered a series of cases Cheat related to the energy products that are flourishing on Facebookfrom offering fake solar panels in the US to donating electric bicycles in Indonesia.

The above scam has emphasized how the bad guys are profiting from misinformation, creating a wide network to trap users. social networkamid a cost-of-living crisis as well as record-high energy and utility costs around the world.

“What they did was horrible. I was expecting a good product and they sent this,” said 24-year-old Brenilyn Ayachock, angrily. This Filipino girl filmed a clip showing that the inside of her power bank is only sand.

Ayachock ordered a power bank on an energy retailer’s Facebook page, which advertised special offers with limited promotions, along with eco-friendly messages.

Ayachock said the site did not respond to her messages after selling her the fake charger for 1,500 pesos ($28) – a small fortune at a time of hyperinflation. She immediately reported the page to Facebook, but it remained active until this week.

Ayachock is not the only victim as social media has become the birthplace of everything from bogus cryptocurrency ads to money and love scams aimed at stealing people’s personal data. People.

Last year, the Philippine government warned people to be wary of “unscrupulous” advertisements for energy-saving devices online, launched as consumers struggle with the price of electricity and water. toweringly high.

AFP has debunked multiple Facebook posts that used fake news bulletins to promote a bogus energy-saving device it claimed could help reduce electricity bills.

Those warnings have been ignored, with commercial data showing thousands of such devices being sold each month. The warnings in online reviews have been drowned out by countless comments from people looking for ways to cut their cost of living.

A new scam, specializing in trapping victims through social networks - Photo 2.

The group that governs Facebook fights fraud by taking down ads and accounts associated with scammers. Photo: AFP

Amy Nofziger, director of fraud victim support at AARP (USA), said that social networks have become a vast network for scammers. Most social media sites do not thoroughly test the advertisements placed on their sites. However, many users do not know that fact and they completely trust these advertisements.

The ease with which scammers attack users with misinformation has raised questions about the ability of platforms like Facebook to clamp down on deceptive advertising, which is a lucrative source of revenue. these social networks.

Experts say algorithms that prioritize content based on personal interests have created the conditions for deceptive ads to attract users most likely to engage.

A spokesperson for Meta, the group that owns Facebook, said they take the scams seriously and have taken measures to prevent them, including disabling many of the advertising accounts responsible. for fraud reported by the AFP’s inspection body.

“The people behind these types of ads are persistent, well-funded and constantly evolving,” said a spokesperson for Meta.

AFP news agency has a global team of journalists dedicated to debunking misinformation as part of Meta’s third-party fact-checking program.

Last October, AFP debunked Facebook posts claiming to give away e-bikes in Indonesia for free after the local government raised fuel prices. Meta says it has disabled individual pages and profiles related to the scam.

But Hendro Sutono, a member of the Indonesian Electric Motorcycle Community group, expressed concern about the fact that fake shops offering e-bikes have mushroomed after rain on this platform and are difficult to detect.

“The bad guys took pictures of real stores and re-posted them on fake accounts to create credibility,” Mr Sutono told AFP.

Mr. Sutono expressed concern that the fake car shop situation could tarnish the image of electric cars to the point that people will give up using them.

In many cases in the US, scammers pose as representatives of utility companies. Last year, an Oregon-based company warned consumers that scams were constantly evolving and that scammers were trying to target via Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

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