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Scam ads, accounts falsely appropriating CNA brand removed by Facebook

Some of these ads lead to webpages masquerading as the CNA website and have links leading to online gambling sites.

Scam ads, accounts falsely appropriating CNA brand removed by Facebook

The scam ads that appear on users' Facebook news feeds would lead them to sites like these emulating the look and feel of a CNA news article, complete with an author's byline and picture.

SINGAPORE: Facebook has removed ads for webpages falsely masquerading as CNA news articles and taken down Facebook pages linked to these fake sites. 

In response to CNA queries, a Facebook spokesperson said the social media platform has “taken action” against these ads and accounts in question. It has disabled ad accounts associated with these fake webpages, as well as unpublished Facebook pages pointing to them. However, it did not reveal how many ads or pages were removed or disabled.

READ: Facebook reports spike in takedowns of hate speech, terrorism

READ: CNA debunks fake tweet announcing school closure due to coronavirus outbreak

In recent weeks, several readers have notified CNA of Facebook ads that led to scam websites emulating the look of its news articles, including using its journalists’ bylines and photos. One reader said the ads were “shown multiple times via different accounts” on Facebook mobile, and they led to a fake news article headlined “Midnight Magic: 7E Cashier Resign After His Fortunate Night Shift”.

One of CNA's readers said a scam ad led the person to this webpage, and the ad was reported to Facebook in early May.

Another reported seeing a sponsored post for what seemed to be a news article by CNA with the headline “Online Bookmakers Announce Amazing Year-End Deals”. 

CNA did not publish any of these articles.

“Our advertising policies prohibit advertisements that are misleading or false, and we have taken action against the ads and accounts in question,” the Facebook spokesperson said, adding that users should report such content immediately by tapping the three dots in the top right corner of the ads. 

Some of the scam webpages were hosted on Shopify, a company which provides tools to build e-commerce websites. When contacted, a company spokesperson said that two sites flagged by CNA have been taken down. It did not respond to a query on whether there were similar sites impersonating CNA on its platform.

The spokesperson added that Shopify “constantly” monitors its platform and takes down sites that are suspicious in nature or breach its Acceptable Use policy.  

“We deploy internal tools to monitor for fraudulent activity across the entire platform and we take action to investigate and close shops when necessary, as was the case with this matter,” the spokesperson said, adding more than 4,500 online stores were closed in March this year due to breaching of its Acceptable Use policy. 

The scams appear to be capitalising on how Singaporeans are turning to official news agencies like CNA during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Singapore authorities have issued advisories telling people to beware of similar scams.

HOW TO IDENTIFY SCAM SITES

The following is a guide to identifying suspicious and possibly fraudulent sites which use doctored CNA articles:The Facebook ads led CNA readers to websites like these. Look at the URL on the top of the web page. The URL of a legitimate news article from CNA will start with channelnewsasia.com or cna.asia. In the example above, the URL starts with synchrofission.myshopify.com which is not linked to CNA. Go to the CNA website at cna.asia or channelnewsasia.com and click on the search icon. If you are unable to find the articl
Source: CNA/kk

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