Frauds impersonating celebrities such as comedian Russell Brand and journalist Dame Esther Rantzen are so convincing that hundreds of thousands of Britons are arrested each year.
Britons are losing tens of millions of pounds a year on ‘subscriptions’ cheat‘ – and are often attracted to celebrity endorsements that later turn out to be fake.
About 300,000 people a year sign up for these scams, often pretending to be advertised by celebrities like comedian Russell Brand, survivalist Bear Grylls and Dame Esther Rantzen.
Signing up scams advertise products or services online, using famous faces to gain consumers’ trust – but celebrities have
But the famous faces supporting the product are often unaware that they are being impersonated, according to BBC Radio 4 Programs Files on 4.
Many scammers rely on Facebook ads to target their victims.
Files above 4 were found over 800 on social media.
Facebook told BBC it has removed almost all the offending ads, violating its rules.
Scams also often impersonate genuine news sites like MailOnline – and even The Mirror.
One woman, Louisa Dyson, 40, of Doncaster, was hit by a MailOnline article spoofed with ‘Russell Brands’ promoting CBD gum for pain relief.
CBD is a legal extract from the cannabis plant, which users say can provide benefits such as relaxation and pain relief but is not intoxicating.
Louisa paid £38.99 for what she believed would be a ‘buy one get one free’ offer on gum, but was in fact charged £148.
In the end, she lost her money, even though her bank blocked the scammers from taking the extra cash.
Fraud investigator Gillian Schonrock told the BBC: “In the UK there are around 300,000 victims a year and they’re losing an average of £250 – that makes [region of a] Loss of £75m per year to UK victims.
“We’re not talking here the wacky scammer who managed to set up a small scheme here, we’re talking about thousands of scammers and huge amounts of money.
“On a global scale, we’re talking $1 billion (£0.7 billion) a year or more.”
Dame Esther Rantzen said: “I don’t like them incorporating my name and therefore, if you like, my reputation for selling their product, which I know nothing about.
“It really makes me so angry, now I feel helpless and I’m cheating myself.”
MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis is also often impersonated by scammers.
Last year, Lewis told MPs how one woman lost £15,000 to scammers who pretended to be him.
These ads often use his face to advertise fake or fraudulent financial products, designed to trick unsuspecting victims into thousands of pounds.
Martin settled the case after Facebook agreed to give £3 million to an anti-fraud charity. The social media site has also rolled out a new scam ad report button.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/warning-over-fake-online-scams-26300493 Warning about fake registration scams impersonating Martin Lewis, Russell Brand and more