Fake celebrity endorsement scams costing Aussies thousands

People are increasingly being caught out by celebrity endorsement scams.

Be wary of fake celebrity scams

People are increasingly being caught out by celebrity endorsement scams, with reports to Scamwatch increasing 400 per cent and losses increasing a staggering 3800 per cent so far in 2018.

These scams often appear as online advertisements or promotional stories on social media or a seemingly legitimate, trustworthy website. They include fictitious quotes and doctored or out-of-context images of the celebrity, such as presenters from the TV show Shark Tank, promoting a product such as skin care creams, weight loss pills, or investment schemes.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch website has received almost 200 reports in 2018 and recorded losses totalling more than $142,000. People aged 45 and older accounted for 63 per cent of losses to these scams. Women are more likely than men to be a victim.

“The growth in these scams is very concerning, particularly as over half the reports we received included a financial loss,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“Most people lost between $100 and $500 and in one case, a victim lost more than $50,000 through fake celebrity endorsement of an investment scheme.”

The scam works by consumers signing up for a ‘free trial’ for a product. As part of this process, they have to provide their credit card details.

The ‘free trial’ however, has strict terms and conditions such as having to return the product within a near impossible timeframe, and an automatically renewing subscription that is difficult to cancel. These terms are often only visible on the document that arrives with the product.

“The groups behind these celebrity endorsement scams are organised and sophisticated fraudsters who are often involved in other scams,” Ms Rickard said.

“It’s easy for them to create fake ads and websites to give credibility to their con, so people need to be very careful and sceptical about ads they read on social media and websites.

“It is vital to research and read independent reviews of the company. Consumers should verify celebrity endorsement of products from the celebrity’s official website or social media account.”

The ACCC is calling on Google, Facebook and Instagram to do more to crack down on these fake ads to prevent scammers reaching potential victims.

“Most of the reports to Scamwatch involve these scam advertisements running on Google ad banners or as ads in Facebooks news feeds,” Ms Rickard said.

“These tech giants must do more to quickly suspend ads, as every time consumers click on a scam ad, they are at risk of losing money.

“If you are caught up in one of these scams, call your bank immediately to try and arrange a chargeback and to stop any further debits to your credit card.”

Below is a list of celebrities who have been used in celebrity endorsement scams based on reports to Scamwatch from members of the public.

  • Cate Blanchett
  • Deborah Knight (Nine News Sydney presenter)
  • Delta Goodrem
  • Dr David Sinclair (Head of Ageing Lab UNSW)
  • Dr Oz
  • Emma Thompson
  • Georgie Gardner (Today Show)
  • Jessica Rowe
  • Kyle Sandilands
  • Lisa Wilkinson
  • Mark Shuttleworth (BBC/CNN)
  • Meghan Markle
  • Mikhail Varshavski (Dr Mike – US Celebrity)
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Oprah
  • Sally Field (American actress)
  • Sonia Kruger (The Voice, Today Extra)
  • Steve Baxter (Shark Tank)

For more advice on how to avoid or report scams, visit Scamwatch.

Have you seen these ads with fake celebrity endorsements? If you see these ads appearing on YourLifeChoices please notify admin@yourlifechoices.com.au immediately.

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    COMMENTS

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    25th Sep 2018
    10:09am
    Simple - ignore this celebrity garbage and you won't be scammed.
    HarrysOpinion
    25th Sep 2018
    10:43am
    YES, BEWARE of sample-trials for "free" plus postage or an initial low charge, say $4.50 to your credit card. These scamming pigs will make it almost impossible for you to cancel and charge a hefty $200 per month on your credit card. And; should you succeed in cancelling...a month or two months later they will have a go again charging your credit card UNLESS you pre-set your credit card online not to accept any OVERSEAS CHARGES. If you don't, then the charge will be processed by your credit card provider. TRY GETTING THAT BACK FAST from the credit card provider?....NO WAY!!!...Credit card providers make it almost impossible for you to get immediate resolution and refund!!!
    So, the solution is NEVER GET SUCKED IN BY THE FREE OFFER ADVERTISEMENTS OR SUCH ALIKE !!! AVOID THEM LIKE A PLAGUE BECAUSE THEY ARE A PLAGUE!!! DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR CREDIT CARD CARD DETAILS...
    musicveg
    25th Sep 2018
    7:53pm
    Use paypal it is much safer for anything online.
    HarrysOpinion
    25th Sep 2018
    10:11pm
    Paypal is not a solution to the problem of falling a victim of advertised scams.
    johnp
    25th Sep 2018
    11:27am
    Anyone know what the outcome was of the Bitcoin investment scheme promoted by the presenters and personalities on the Channel 10 TV show Sharktank ??
    Rosret
    25th Sep 2018
    11:28am
    This is off famous people topic - however I would like to ask have any of you done an update on your computer (forced) and now Google is just a plan simple Google log-in page with a new font and no special artworks and animated gifs on the Google logo. My gut feels like I may have been hacked but its on both the Mac and windows 10 machines. It just doesn't seem like google.
    musicveg
    25th Sep 2018
    7:55pm
    Need to check the https address.
    Gypsy
    25th Sep 2018
    11:36pm
    Mine looks like that Rosret. I don't use Google but did a quick look & it looks as you say.
    KB
    25th Sep 2018
    12:03pm
    Yes you just need to be vigilant .and ignore ads that are to good to be true. People will be taken in when they are down.
    johnp
    26th Sep 2018
    11:04am
    Was wondering what the issues and the ethics would be re those involved and the personalities within such as the Channel 10 TV show Sharktank. That is in regard to the likes of the Bitcoin investment scheme and substantiation of same


    Tags: finances, money, scams,

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