Please be alert to celebrity endorsement fraud

Source: Release Time: 04:18:36 2018-10-30

People are increasingly being caught out by celebrity endorsement scams, with reports to Scamwatch increasing 400 per cent and losses increasing a staggering 3,800 per cent so far in 2018.

These scams often appear as online advertisements or promotional stories on social media or a seemingly legitimate, trustworthy website. They include fictitious quotes and doctored or out-of-context images of the celebrity, such as presenters from the TV show Shark Tank, promoting a product such as skin care creams, weight loss pills, or investment schemes.

The scam works by consumers signing up for a ‘free trial’ for a product. As part of this process, they have to provide their credit card details. The ‘free trial’ however, has strict terms and conditions such as having to return the product within a near impossible timeframe, and an automatically renewing subscription that is difficult to cancel. These terms are often only visible on the document that arrives with the product.

“The groups behind these celebrity endorsement scams are organised and sophisticated fraudsters who are often involved in other scams. It’s easy for them to create fake ads and websites to give credibility to their con, so people need to be very careful and sceptical about ads they read on social media and websites,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you are caught up in one of these scams, call your bank immediately to try and arrange a chargeback and to stop any further debits to your credit card.”

Below is a list of celebrities who have been used in celebrity endorsement scams based on reports to Scamwatch from members of the public.

Cate Blanchett Deborah Knight (Nine News Sydney presenter) Delta Goodrem Dr David Sinclair (Head of Ageing Lab UNSW) Dr Oz Emma Thompson Georgie Gardner (Today Show) Jessica Rowe (Studio 10) Kyle Sandilands Lisa Wilkinson (Ch 10) Mark Shuttleworth (BBC/CNN) Meghan Markle Mikhail Varshavski (Dr Mike – US Celebrity) Nicole Kidman Oprah Sally Field (American actress) Sonia Kruger (The Voice, Today Extra) Steve Baxter (Shark Tank)