Remember this quote by Albert Einstein?
It’s a brilliant quote, but the problem is that Einstein never said this. This phrase was first mentioned in a novel by mystery novelist Rita Mae Brown.
You really can’t believe anything you read on the internet. As Abraham Lincoln once said:
OK, so Lincoln clearly didn’t say this either. Now, do you get my point?
Scammers online have been circulating articles and advertisements with false endorsements to deceive the public into buying their products.
These false endorsements include fake quotes attributed to Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and even President Halimah Yacob.
In President Yacob’s case, the scammers were attempting to trick people into buying bitcoin.
According to her post on Facebook, President Yacob said that a fraudulent website claimed she had launched “a new initiative to adopt blockchain technology and a new bitcoin trading system platform at a press conference”.
This fraudulent website created misleading articles which promoted bitcoin investments. As President Yacob described, “the site had doctored an image of one of my Facebook posts at a dialogue to give the illusion that I had made these announcements, in order to solicit bitcoin investments.”
The site then encourages readers to sign up for the bitcoin programme and make a deposit via credit card or bank transfer.
The problem of fake news on social media has been in the spotlight ever since the 2016 United States Presidential election, where fake news on Facebook reportedly influenced voters’ political beliefs.
Similarly, scammers have been circulating these fake articles via advertisements on social media sites like Facebook. They look like this:
Looks genuine, right? These articles are made to look like legitimate news websites such as The Straits Times and The New Paper. Some of these fraudulent websites even use the same mastheads and fonts.
Readers who click on these false advertisements are directed to the main website which falsely features influential people “advocating cryptocurrency investments, travel offers and overseas restaurants”.
These ads often disappear within a few hours (most probably taken down by Facebook after people reported them), before other ads with links to similar articles appear.
Not the only one
President Yacob isn’t the first high-profile figure to be featured in these fraudulent websites.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat was featured in a fake article, too, recently. According to CNA, one article claimed he had invested 6 million dollars in a new company. The article promises that the same company can make readers rich.
Moreover, billionaire Peter Lim had to file police reports in 2016 and 2017 after his name and image was used in investment endorsements and scams.
Don’t believe everything you read
In light of these new scams, President Yacob advised Singaporeans to be wary of such articles.
“I urge Singaporeans to be cautious when coming across such scams that ask for your financial and personal information.”
Scams are getting more sophisticated and difficult to spot. It’s a good practice to corroborate news articles especially when it comes from dubious sources like these.
Remember, just because it’s written down or printed doesn’t mean it’s true. Question and corroborate. Don’t believe everything you read, especially if it’s on the internet.
Isn’t that right, Abraham?
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