Deceptive crypto platforms use celebrities’ images to defraud people on X – Report


A new report by has exposed a widespread scam on X (formerly Twitter) targeting users with fake cryptocurrency investments. 

The report revealed that the scam uses attention-grabbing ads featuring images of celebrities and fabricated interviews with reputable news outlets to lure victims.

“Accounts that published the promoted tweets were a few months old and all had the blue tick of the X Premium payment service, formerly Twitter Blue. These accounts managed to increase the visibility of the publications by investing in advertising through X Ads,” Maldita revealed.

READ: Elon Musk’s policy change fuels engagement of unchecked propaganda on X – Report

“Ads reached 368,000 users on average and were viewed a minimum of 76 million times overall. The most viewed post reached almost four million impressions. Most ads were programmed to be shown to users over 25 years of age located in Spain,” part of the report published recently read.

The report further revealed that 96 of the publications circulated for a total of 354 days and image of singer Lola Índigo was the most repeated in the ads while the most spoofed media outlet was El País.

“The X ads repository shows that the online platform stopped the promotion of 35.15% of the ads we analyzed. For the rest, there isn’t information of any kind,” Maldita said.

“X acts inconsistently as it alleges different reasons for moderation on posts that follow exactly the same pattern. 32.76% of the publications for which data is available contained illegal content, according to X. Most of the remaining ads were classified by the company as violations of its internal policies.”

The report detailed a three-step scheme: phoney ads with stolen celebrity images, fake news websites with fabricated interviews, and bogus investment opportunities in cryptocurrency. 

Clicking on the ad redirects users to websites impersonating legitimate news outlets, lending a false air of legitimacy to the scam, the report revealed adding that these websites promote fraudulent investment opportunities in cryptocurrencies, designed to steal personal data or defraud people.

The report showed that over 165 fraudulent posts were identified in a short period. These ads targeted users over 25 years old in Spain, reaching millions and garnering over 76 million impressions.

While X removed some of the identified ads, the report raises concerns about the platform’s overall response. X offered no explanation for the remaining ads and classified a significant portion as violating internal policies rather than illegal content.

It argued that these advertisements likely violate Spanish laws concerning misleading advertising, unauthorized investment services, and image rights violation.

The report highlighted X’s obligations under the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) to remove demonstrably illegal content. The report contends that X’s failure to address this widespread scam effectively may necessitate more decisive action under the DSA.

It recommended that X invest in content moderation with regional language expertise, improve detection processes to prevent fraudulent ads, and enhance transparency in its advertisement repository.

The report emphasized the need for authorities to enforce existing laws and collaboration with experts to ensure online platforms remain safe spaces for users.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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