June 25, 2024

The world of online advertising is rife with scams, leading to profit for large corporations and albasting small publishers. So, what’s the story behind this, and can it be fixed?

I recently had a chat with a workmate that left me annoyed and irritated. Not because of any fault of mine, but due to what my website – this one right here – was apparently facilitating.

“Your website is carrying fake ads about Larry Emder and Richard Wilkins being arrested,” he commented.

I reacted with a mixture of exasperation and resignation, sentiments likely shared by other small online publishers.

For a small independent publisher like myself, running a few ads is crucial for maintaining the website. While they might be few, they help pay for website hosting, software, domain costs, and even my occasional coffee. This challenge isn’t unique to me but is a common frustration amongst us publishers.

The process of running a website and offering valuable insights to readers is tough, and the challenge is further exacerbated by the need to manage and block dishonest ads.

![Dodgy Ads](https://investmentshoax.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/dodgy-ads-2024-15-jpg.webp.webp)

Faux Celebrities Making False Claims

My previous interaction with a phony celebrity on Twitter, now X, serves as a good example. Scammers typically employ a sense of urgency, which is usually the first sign of a scam.

Another incident involved a fake Bryan Dawe, who attempted to solicit donations for a fictitious charity. I was even thanked by [the real Bryan Dawe](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Dawe) for exposing the scam, although I’m still not completely certain it was indeed him.

Moreover, people have increasingly been encountering fake Facebook ads featuring the renowned Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki. These are totally fake ads that unfortunately get run unchecked.

![Dr. Karl’s Fake Ads](https://investmentshoax.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/dodgy-ads-2024-13-jpg.webp.webp)

Fake Ads Taking Over the Internet

Online scams leveraging celebrity personalities are not new and are proving to be quite a menace. Scammers are increasingly becoming more clever, even creating armies of followers to help snare more victims.

They promise cash or gifts to followers in an attempt to steal from them or sell their bank details online. In the end, the followers never receive anything, but their bank details start popping up on the dark web.

These scam ads typically feature local celebrities who are more suitable as brand ambassadors rather than international bigwigs. They are very persuasive and can be alarmingly deceitful.

![Scam ads example](https://investmentshoax.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/dodgy-ads-2024-05-jpg.webp.webp)

Sadly, not many people are able to distinguish between legitimate websites and scam sites. The only functional links on these scam sites lead users further into the scam, ultimately guiding them to a fraudulent transaction page.

![Fake Website](https://investmentshoax.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/dodgy-ads-2024-08-blurred-1024×692.webp.webp)

Dodgy Products for a Dodgy Ad

Given the vastness of the web, tracking down and eliminating scam sites is an arduous task, if not downright impossible.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can individuals protect themselves against scam ads online?

Users can protect themselves by being vigilant and skeptical about too-good-to-be-true offers. Moreover, they should verify the source of the ad and the legitimacy of the celebrity being portrayed. Users should also protect their personal data and avoid sharing sensitive information like bank details online.

2. How can businesses or publishers curb the issue of scam ads?

Publishers can incorporate advanced ad-filtering and blocking mechanisms to sieve out dishonest ads. Nonetheless, monitoring and tracking the ads manually is paramount to ensure ad integrity. Reporting and seeking the removal of scam ads from hosting platforms can also help curtail their circulation.

3. What is the role of large companies in combating scam ads?

Large corporations like Google should play their part by creating robust systems to monitor and control ad content. They should penalize those who run dishonest ads and step up their automated moderation practices. Further reinforcing their collaborative efforts with governmental and non-governmental entities will also help solve this problem.

The internet is swarming with bogus websites, and regulating them is a daunting task. The surge of scams can be attributed to lax hosting rules and conditions that vary from one country to another. Monitoring these illegal practices comes down to ad platforms, where the majority of these fraudulent websites originate.

Yet, these ad platforms seem to turn a blind eye to the problem. This indifference is largely influenced by the fact that they profit from running scam ads. Big players such as Meta and Google are not exempt from these practices.

A case in point is the ad linked to a fabricated Nine website, which was discovered on Meta’s network. Google also seems complicit in spamming users with ads linked to shady websites. The temporary solution could be cease and desist orders, yet these fraudulent ads have proved to be resilient.

Compounding the problem is the apparent lack of responsibility from ad platforms. Policies indicate that ad approval is likely automated using AI, but the platforms show little to no effort in due diligence. The [Australian Government’s proposed mandatory code](https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2023-464732) could change that by penalizing ad giants that fail to validate ads.

The urgency is fueled by massive scams that have affected many Australians. This includes deceptive celebrity crypto scams and bogus investment scams, costing Australians hundreds of millions each year. These ads exploit AI image generation techniques to seem more convincing and employ AI video and sound technologies to mimic legitimate ads.

False celebrity endorsements have been rampant, with victims pulled into believing products or services endorsed by seemingly credible figures. An example is the widespread ads featuring Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki on Meta, all of which can be traced back to Meta’s Ad Library. Victims lose money on useless products and end up sharing their banking and card details with malicious entities.

Meanwhile, these scams also negatively impact the reputations of the abused celebrities. They are left to pick up the pieces and track the fraudulent ads run under their names.

Victims such as Dr. Karl have gone lengths to absolve themselves of the scams, yet these precautions are often overlooked by unsuspecting clients. He has resorted to lodging as many as 100 complaints daily to have these illicit ads removed. But despite alerting Meta of the issue, their response remains unperturbed.

_Upcoming changes:

– What is the meaning and implications of the new mandatory code set by the government?
– How can one protect oneself from falling victim to these scams?
– What are the common indicators of such fraudulent ads online?_Meta confirms it doesn’t permit ads that use misleading tactics to trick individuals into parting with their money or private information. However, it fails to address the issue of ads using personas without their direct and signed consent. Despite the fact that Meta has deleted 691 million phony accounts globally in 2023’s final quarter, scams continue to rob people of their money.

Unfortunately, just before this article was published, several [fake advertisements](https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/?active_status=all&ad_type=all&country=AU&q=karl%20kruszelnicki&sort_data[direction]=desc&sort_data[mode]=relevancy_monthly_grouped&search_type=keyword_unordered&media_type=all) featuring Dr. Karl were still active. They were brought to a halt a day before this article went live, due to a breach of Meta’s advertising guidelines.

Just like Meta, Google also has policies to manage deceitful ads. Google takes down ads that violate their regulations. However, fraudulent ads remain and it becomes the responsibility of the website owner to identify and eradicate them.

A significant portion of revenue is generated by ad systems for both Google and Meta. Google generated $237.86 billion US dollars in 2023 from ad revenue, while Meta made around $5 billion AUD. Irrespective of the profits, scam ads need to be addressed and rectified.

According to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), misleading or deceiving consumers is illegal. It holds social media platforms responsible for identifying and removing fake celebrity ads from their platform.

For this reason, both Meta and Google might already be culpable. An efficient check on the legitimacy of an ad is a necessity for an ad system. In the present, however, it’s the audience, celebrity, and consumer that bear the brunt of scam ads.

Enforcing responsibility on big ad platforms to verify ads would be a beneficial step in curbing scam ads. Meanwhile, consumers must remain vigilant until effective measures are implemented.


**How does Meta tackle scams on its platform?**

Meta employs a multi-layered strategy to address scams. It uses technology such as machine learning techniques to identify and take action against content that violates their policies. It removed nearly 691 million fake accounts in 2023’s final quarter.

**What is Google’s policy on misleading ads?**

Google has strict policies forbidding ads that mislead or deceive users on its platform. If they find ads that violate their policies, they proceed with removal.

**Who is responsible for misleading ads?**

At present, it’s predominantly the consumer, the personality, and the audience that bear the responsibility of misleading ads. To protect against misleading conduct, the Australian Consumer Law holds social media platforms responsible for identifying and removing fake celebrity ads on their platforms.