Crooks are using pics of celebs for fake adverts – and making nearly £1m a day

Crooks using pics of celebrities in fake adverts online can rake in nearly a million quid a day.

Big names like Holly Willoughby, Martin Lewis and even the Duchess of Cambridge have been used for scams.

A report has revealed that flawed regulation is allowing crime gangs to pocket more than £800,000 per day.

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The bogus adverts pop up online in places like the bottom of news websites and blogs.

They often boast false claims as clickbait to entice punters to buy a product – that then never arrives.

Consumer watchdog Which? said that only 1% of digital advertising is safe from this type of fraud, known as ‘malvertising’.

One con showed the Duchess of Cambridge with a black eye under the headline: “Kate finally reveals what caused the dispute.”

Readers who clicked on the image were taken to a fake website for face cream which took their money but did not deliver.

Other swindles include Martin Lewis purporting to encourage people to invest in cryptocurrency and top chef Gordon Ramsay revealing his “number one cash maker”.

The report said a gang that was responsible for a “large scale malvertising campaign” using fake celebrity endorsed bitcoin scam adverts on popular news websites used “fake ad creative, website targeting, a variety of cloaking techniques, and use of reputable ad servers” to bank $1 million (£810,000) in one day.

Which? commissioned Beruku, a digital research group, to carry out the research and said the results show the scale of the problem means self-regulation is not working.

They said most of the fraud is being carried out by organised criminal groups that create new identities and fake media agencies.

The sophisticated racket means that they constantly pop up again under new guises when adverts do get caught.

Criminals make money in a variety of ways, including directly from the sales of their fraudulent products, through data harvesting and the resale of personal data.

Which? director of policy Rocio Concha said: “It’s clear that this is another situation where governments and regulators need to act quickly to catch up with tech-savvy criminals.”


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