A prolific BTC scam operating in Australia has been attributed to fraudsters in Russia, following an investigation by The Guardian Australia.
The cryptocurrency advertising scam relies on fake testimonials from some of Australia’s best-known celebrities, promoting the benefits of fake digital currency investment plans. According to investigators, the advertisements relying on the use of local celebrities like Dick Smith and Andrew Forrest are part of a global network of similar scams, operating from a number of addresses in Moscow.
The recently released investigation reports that the ad scam has been going on since at least 2018, targeting news websites across the country to reap unsuspecting victims. Fake infomercials showing photos of celebrities claiming to have their approval have been disseminated on several news platforms, including the Guardian, which accidentally ran a number of scam ads on its own site.
The Guardian’s investigation revealed the names of five people linked to the scams, with addresses in central Moscow. Two of the email addresses linked to the attackers are Gmail addresses, as Google has now launched its own investigation into the operation.
Other information suggests possible ties to Ukraine, in particular a report released by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which found similar operations at a call center in Kiev.
The Ukrainian scam was run by some 200 employees, targeting investors in the UK, Australia and New Zealand with fake digital currency endorsements from Martin Lewis, Gordon Ramsay and Hugh Jackman. According to their findings, the program brought in $ 70 million in 2019.
The ties to Moscow introduce another dimension for regulators investigating these types of frauds, which continued to affect victims in Australia and beyond throughout 2020.
With the success of these programs still uninterrupted, despite the best efforts of law enforcement, it reminds potential investors to exercise caution when investing in digital currency systems.
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