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Celebrity scams online

Not everything that glitters is gold - scams that exploit the popularity of celebrities do not go out of style.

Scamming unsuspecting victims online is certainly one of the most common scams used by criminals. And since the aim in this trade is constantly to attract the attention of the target group, variety is the key. This is why online fraudsters like to take advantage of current topics such as COVID-19 vaccinations or "evergreens" such as the story of the considerable legacy of a distant relative.

In this article we deal with those scams in which fraudsters misuse the names and pictures of celebrities for their own purposes in order to get the money out of your victims' pockets.

Cryptocurrencies and giveaways

Cryptocurrency scams are probably one of the most popular among scammers. The scam has probably been around since cryptocurrencies became mainstream.

The criminals try to reach as many people as possible through a variety of channels. For example, they try to hijack YouTube accounts with a large number of followers or to spread their supposed giveaway campaigns via Twitter. They then ask their audience to send Bitcoins to a Bitcoin address and promise, for example, to pay them back double the amount as part of the giveaway. As you have probably already suspected, the victims never get their money back.

Often the scammers try to make their actions appear legitimate by making it appear that the giveaways are supported or even funded by celebrities. Often this role falls involuntarily to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, which is strange, because he has spoken out against cryptocurrencies several times. The name of Tesla boss Elon Musk, who is actually a big fan of cryptocurrencies, is also often misused for fraud. In one case, the criminals even put his name on the Bitcoin address itself.

Celebrity promotions on social media

Many celebrities like to interact in live streams with their fans on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. However, not only the loyal fans of the celebrities appreciate this content. Fraudsters also like to use the videos for their own purposes.

To do this, they create fake accounts of the stars on the networks, including posts, pictures and videos. It is only difficult to falsify the profile name, so write it incorrectly or add a word such as “TV”, “fansite” or something similar.

Then a video will be streamed live that the celebrity posted or streamed live some time ago. In the description they announce something like: "The first 1000 people who comment will receive $ 1,000". To do this, they use trendy hashtags to make the post easier to find.

As soon as fans interact with the fraudulent video, they will receive a message with further instructions on how to claim their prize. To do this, you may need to post on a website and their sensitive, personal information, or even send money from their account to the initiators. It is safe to say that the victims lose their money and their data is likely to be used for further scams.

Support my charity campaign

Another type of celebrity scam involves using fake social media accounts by celebrities to send direct messages to fans. The tactic is not very sophisticated and can be used on any social media platform, be it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

The victim receives a direct message from the bogus account asking them to donate to a charity. Alternatively, they are also offered tickets for private concerts or the like, for example. Of course, the gullible victims lose their money and no charity they tried to support will ever see a dime of the money. A Bruce Springsteen impersonator could relieve a fan by more than $ 11,000.

Invest because Celebrity Z did too!

The good name of celebrities is often used for supposed investment opportunities. Online scammers try to trick ignorant victims into claiming that an "investment opportunity" is sponsored by a celebrity.

Investment scams are not new and always convey the same message: Your own investment can be multiplied quickly and easily, while the profits are quasi "guaranteed". This is just another twist on the old concept.

The scam usually consists of various popup ads that come in the guise of an article and promise amazing ROI. For this purpose, one relies on bombastic headlines like "Promi X has invested in this company or product and quadrupled its profits" or "Promi Z is betting on this promising investment".

However, the investment opportunities usually turn out to be fake. If they are based on a real possibility, then the money is never used there. The only ones who get rich are the criminals behind the scam.

How can you protect yourself?

It is actually not difficult to spot such scams. This is due, for example, to the protective measures of the social media platforms, with which real celebrities can be distinguished from fraudsters. Facebook, Instagram or Twitter mark verified profiles of celebrities with a blue check mark next to the username. If a profile does not have such a label, then it is most likely a fake.

If you come across alleged charities and investment opportunities, they can easily be checked with a Google search.

In conclusion, a healthy dose of skepticism is the best way to protect yourself. Always stay vigilant and do not believe anything that seems a little suspicious. If something sounds too good to be true, then it almost certainly isn't true.