How to Spot Scams Disguised as News

With so much information available online these days, being capable of making the difference between reliable and suspicious content is not easy. Especially if you have to divide your attention between your work tasks, social media notifications, WhatsApp messages, and the news articles you are trying to read in between, you might find yourself clicking on a wrong link and coming across a scam disguised as news. Here is a recent example that can better illustrate this situation and a few tips on how to avoid scam articles.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has issued this spring warnings on dangerous scam articles disguised as news. Here is what they found out. Over the past months, Australians got targeted by scammers via posts that mimic news articles. Many people have filed reports complaining that they responded to different advertisements that looked like regular news articles, but in the end, made them lose money. According to ASIC, most of those articles were covering news on cryptocurrency and crypto assets and promoting different cryptocurrencies. Moreover, some of the websites where one could find these articles even featured the ASIC logo and stated that the investment choices they presented were ASIC-approved.

Many of these fake articles were also impersonating established news outlets such as ABC News, Forbes Business Magazine, or Sunrise, which increased readers’ confidence that the news was real.

How most of these articles worked is that they were posted on social media. Once a person saw them on their news feed and clicked on them, they got directed to a third-party website, that was no longer connected to the original publication. After readers landed on this page, they were immediately asked to provide their contact details and full name. Those who submitted the necessary details were then called or emailed by scammers who promised them incredible investment opportunities with high returns. What followed depended on each case. As you may assume, the people who transferred money to the individuals posing as intermediary investors lost those amounts and never got contacted again.

This story shows once again how efficient and adaptable scammers can be, specifically when they target people with something as complex and potentially profitable as cryptocurrency investments. To make sure you will not be the victim of similar scams, here are a few basic aspects to consider whenever reading news that redirects you to other websites that require you to submit your details.

One of the most important factors is the source of information. As this story points out, scammers can easily use fake news as bait, and they can disguise it so well that it seems to be published by giant media outlets. Therefore, if you want to make sure you’re not reading fake news, you should not read articles you get from your social media news feed. Even if many of those may come from reputable publications, the safest way is to go directly to those sources. Whether you are interested in stocks or cryptocurrency investments, many news outlets cover these topics. They would never redirect you to shady pages where you are asked to provide your details and then get contacted for an investment opportunity.

Since the scam in question targeted potential cryptocurrency investors, it’s good to remember that these investments are risky and highly volatile. Being offered the possibility to invest in such assets after reading a piece of news from Forbes Business Magazine should always raise a red flag. Moreover, while many reputable media outlets do cover topics related to investments, even in cryptocurrency, most of them don’t focus on specific investments and don’t promote them as a potential source of profit for their readers.

Getting back to the scam that was spotted by ASIC in Australia, it is also important to note how these scammers tried to persuade readers to provide personal details by claiming that their investment was ASIC approved. The truth is that this organization doesn’t endorse any particular investment, nor does it authorize companies to use its name to promote their service.

In conclusion, readers should also be wary of news articles that promote investments opportunities that are presumably supported by official institutions. Finally, the last and easiest way to spot scams disguised as fake news is to check their validity online by browsing for the same topic. If no results are available, you might be dealing with a scam.