Thursday, 16 July 2020

Cryptocurrency scammers flood Facebook users with ads for fake articles

A Facebook page about Cookies advertising cryptocurrencies. Suspicious? Photo by, used with permission.

This story is based on reporting by Global Voices’ content partner News Agency, a project of Metamorphosis Foundation.

Scammers using fake Forbes articles and anti-EU disinformation as bait continue to target Facebook users across Europe, the Skopje-based Metamorphosis Foundation has warned.

Metamorphosis is a civil society organization from North Macedonia promoting digital rights and media literacy.

Its monitoring of social networks has revealed that scammers continue to use Facebook advertisements masked as links to articles from the respectable, continuing disinformation trends involving not only China, but also European Union members like Sweden.

On May 19, the Ministry of Interior Affairs of North Macedonia warned citizens that scammers use social networks and e-mail to distribute links misrepresented as articles from to promote the purchase of a supposed new Chinese cryptocurrency.

Citizens who click on the links and provide personal data to the scammers are then targeted by phone calls persuading them to start ‘investing’ by paying instalments of $250 dollars.

Other manipulation techniques are then deployed to make users increase the fee.

The anti cyber-crime unit of the Macedonian police claimed the malicious links lead to a website hosted in Ukraine, allegedly run by a Russian citizen in a manner similar to the debunked OneCoin Ponzi scheme run by Bulgarian fraudster Ruja Ignatova, which inflicted damage worldwide of over $4 billion.

Data publicly provided by Facebook about the geographic reach of the advertisements promoting these links suggest they go far beyond the borders of North Macedonia, activists warn.

Manipulative ads help scammers gather personal data from victims

Metamorphosis identified several similar ads that are active on social networks. Users who click on these ads are redirected to addresses such as:

instead of pages on the website.


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