Republic of the Philippines
National Police Commission
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
Camp BGen Rafael T Crame, Quezon City
ACG-CYBER SECURITY BULLETIN NR 151: BE WARY OF ONLINE CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT SCAMS
Reference Number: ACG-CSB 121018151
The following information was obtained from different cyber security sources for notification to all parties concerned pursuant to the mandate of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) and classified as “Restricted” pursuant to the PNP Regulation 200-012 on Document Security and Impact Rating as high based on PNP Information Communication Technology (ICT) Security
Celebrity endorsements are increasingly common in today’s digital age. We often see companies use celebrities to promote a product, service or help raise awareness for an event or special cause. Increasingly, some celebrities are endorsing investments or products marketed as investments. Celebrities have been used to promote products such as perfumes, jewelry, gadgets, fancy cars, watches, diet drinks and lingerie to help sell desirable things through clever advertising.
Nowadays celebrity is more accessible thru internet and social media, celebrity could be anyone famous an athlete, an actor, a singer or even a YouTube personality. Almost anyone with over 10,000 followers can be called a celebrity and being paid huge amount to share photos of specific products to the different social media accounts, Anyone from reality TV guests, radio hosts and athletes can earn sizeable income from product endorsements. No matter what the product and the profile of the promoter, a familiar face is a powerful marketing tool.
Familiar and trusted faces are now being used to trick people into trusting fraudulent brands to buy products which may not exist or be not as described. People are increasingly being caught out by celebrity endorsement scams, online advertisements or promotional stories on social media or on what appears to be a trustworthy website.
The scams often incorporate fictitious quotes and images of the celebrity promoting the products including anti-aging skin care, diet pills, or investment schemes. Often people aged 45 and older are more likely to be a victim and women are more likely to fall for the scams than men.
These scam work by attracting victims with a ‘free trial’ for a product, but in order to receive the free trial, credit card details must be exchanged. The terms and conditions of these ‘free trials’ are very deceptive and make opting out of subscriptions or cancelling purchases very complicated and almost impossible in some cases. It is believed that those behind these scams are highly organized and experienced fraudsters who are likely to have been involved in other online scams.
It is recommended the people should think twice before signing up for any product advertised online with careful research and reading of independent reviews (often a simple Google search will help to clarify the authenticity of a deal or a brand). But ultimately to be careful and doubtful about ads visible to read on social media platforms and websites.
All PNP personnel as well as the public are advised to follow the tips in order to avoid the risk of online celebrity endorsement scam, to wit:
- Get unbiased information from a trusted source and find out if they are registered;
- Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not or trust;
- Never engage in any financial transaction, bitcoin or otherwise, via direct message on social media platforms; and
- Check the contact page to find the name of the owner and use a lookup service on the URL to find additional information about the site.
For additional information, please refer to the following websites:
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