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Investigation traces scam Bitcoin celeb ads to Moscow

A massive Bitcoin ad fraud involving unauthorized photos of Australian celebrities that apparently promoted fake investment schemes is allegedly from Russia.

Fraudulent Bitcoin advertisements capitalizing on Australian personalities such as Dick Smith and Andrew Forrest are part of a coordinated global company in Moscow that uses at least five addresses, The Guardian investigation reports.

The Guardian released a paper on December 13 that included more specifics about a massive Bitcoin ad fraud that has been running on news websites since at least 2018. The scam included false articles using unauthorized celebrity photos to advertise fraudulent crypto investing schemes and steal money, as previously stated. As the news agency unintentionally ran some of these scam advertisements, The Guardian itself became a victim of the scheme.

The Guardian Australia identified five names of individuals who had reported hundreds of fake websites connected to the scam, “all with addresses in the centre of Moscow,” according to the latest article. The news agency said that when two of the email addresses were connected to Gmail accounts, Google initiated an investigation.

The Guardian indicated that there is other evidence indicating that there might still be links to Ukraine in the scam system, referring to the Organized Crime and Corruption Monitoring Project or OCCRP’s March 2020 report. A call centre running related Bitcoin scams working from Kiev was discovered by the OCCRP investigation.

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