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After a threat of a lawsuit for displaying Bitcoin scams, The Guardian Australia launched an investigation to determine the nature of the increasing number of similar fraudulent activities. It concluded that there’s a group of fraudsters operating a massive global enterprise based in Moscow, Russia.
Global BTC Scam Organization Revealed
CryptoPotato reported in early October that the giant news media displayed a number of false Bitcoin advertisements that impersonated famous individuals. The Guardian Australia failed to prevent the scams from appearing on its website, and one of the victims, the multi-millionaire Dick Smith, threatened to sue the news agency.
Earlier this week, The Guardian Australia published the conclusions from its own investigation. The report reads that such fake celebrity ads have been running on several news websites for at least two years. However, as people remained in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat intensified.
The investigation asserted that these schemes are a part of a “highly organized global business that uses five addresses in the center of Moscow.”
Prof. David Lacey from the charity organization offering support to people scammed online, IDCare, has warned about the increasing number of such scams. Lacey also highlighted the dangers of these schemes as some of the victims have “lost their entire life savings.”
As mentioned in the first report, an 80-year-old pensioner lost more than $80,000 in six weeks as he trusted that Dick Smith indeed stood behind a fraudulent project that he saw on The Guardian Australia.
Too Big For Google To Stop Them?
According to the report, Google has removed 5,000 fraudulent advertisements per minute last year – or a total of 2.62 billion. However, the giant US multinational company has asserted that “scammers are constantly evolving their efforts, while we evolve our policies and enforcement to address this.”
Fraudsters buy millions of ads on Google’s ad market places, using names of local celebrities depending on which country they want to target. They manage to bypass Google’s detection by making repeated minor text changes in the ads.
The media outlet argued that it could not “easily control whether the scam ads appear” on its website since it comes directly from Google. Nevertheless, The Guardian Australia has blocked a few marketplaces selling false ads and managed to prevent some fraudulent content from displaying on its website.
The investigation found that the Moscow-based organization had two email addresses linked to Gmail. Following the report, a spokesman for Google has said that the company’s security team will compile an investigation of its own.