Fake news articles cost $8m to Australians in 2023

The Australian government has cautioned consumers to remain vigilant against counterfeit news articles and deepfake videos promoting scams on online investment trading platforms, which incurred losses exceeding $8 million for Australians in the past year. The National Anti-Scam Centre reported over 400 instances of such scams in 2023, including one case where an Australian lost $80,000 in cryptocurrency.

These scams operate by fabricating news articles and videos featuring celebrities, often referred to as the “Kochie scam” due to the inclusion of former Sunrise host David Koch in many fake articles. These deceptive materials are disseminated on social media or presented as advertisements on reputable news sites.

Catriona Lowe, the deputy chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, explained that scammers employ fake news articles and deepfake videos to mislead people into believing that well-known figures profit significantly from online investment trading platforms, when, in reality, it is a scam. One victim lost $80,000 in cryptocurrency after encountering a deepfake Elon Musk video on social media, registering through an online form, and being unable to withdraw the funds.

The National Anti-Scam Centre received complaints about scammers utilizing fake online trading platforms with names like Quantum AI, Immediate Edge, Immediate Connect, Immediate X3, and Quantum Trade Wave.

An individual, identified as Sonia, shared her experience clicking on a fake article on Facebook, which falsely claimed that Matildas captain Samantha Kerr engaged in a dispute with former athlete and television presenter Matt Shirvington. Sonia, intrigued by the gossip, visited the online trading platform’s website mentioned in the article. Although she initially hesitated to commit, the company persistently called her more than 60 times, prompting her realization that it was a scam.

Sonia’s decision not to invest spared her financial losses, but the relentless harassment from the fraudulent company reinforced the need for caution. Despite feeling the need to justify her intelligence, Sonia emphasized the prevalence of skilled individuals engaging in deceptive practices and urged others to be vigilant and careful.

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