Fake doctors, prize games and interviews: How they try to steal your data and money

Freepik/@ gstudioimagen

Internet scams date back to the time of the internet itself and many people remember the day when a Nigerian prince asked for a “symbolic” amount of money to activate his funds and save his fortune, after which he would return your investment multiple times. However, the prince would forget you as soon as you paid him money and disappear without a trace.

Making quick money by deceiving the audience, collecting personal data, clicks and likes, and all this with the misuse of well-known brands and TV personalities is a trend that inherited the rich prince in distress.

If you use social networks, you’ve probably come across a post that promises you a prize if you like the page, follow the link from the post and leave your personal information so that the prize will be in your hands, and there’s a good chance that you’ve come across a famous face, politician, athlete, a doctor, a TV journalist, who advertises certain pills, therapy or earnings through cryptocurrencies.

The Golden Ball and cryptocurrencies

That’s how the image of the best soccer player from this region, the winner of the Ballon d’Or, Luka Modric, was misused to steal data, and most likely money, from users of social networks.

Along with the bombastic announcement that Modric’s career may be over, the news featured the title – Scandal which shocked the world, illustrated with Luka’s photo.

After clicking on the link, you won’t find out anything about the scandal that may have ended Modric’s career, but the internet will take you to a “news” titled “Luka Modric’s Latest Investment Scared the Government and Big Banks”, which is designed to look like that it is news from the web portal 24 sata, although it is clear that it has nothing to do with that website.

Besides 24 sata, N1 was also misused, for which Modric allegedly revealed “that his main source of money is a new automatic program for trading cryptocurrencies called 360 App Bitsoft”. Such an interview for N1 never happened, nor did Modric ever talk about cryptocurrencies.

At the bottom of the fake interview, as explained by Faktograf, there is a contact form in which they ask you to enter your name, surname, email and phone number, and then some other information via a short survey in which they “test” whether you are suitable for “investing”. And if in the end, the user does not pay any money, he has already given much of his data to the authors of the site, which they can then use in various ways.

Similarly, another story that was tried to be sold to citizens is that Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic earns “extra money” by trading cryptocurrencies.

White coats are especially dangerous

And while they are trying to convince you through Luka Modric to invest in alleged cryptocurrencies, which should be suspicious at the first glance, you can also find a more dangerous version of misuse of someone’s image for advertising and data theft on the internet – false advertising through existing reputable medical doctors.

Therefore, the distinguished Croatian neurosurgeon, Dr. Josip Paladino, was a victim of such misuse. For months, fake interviews of him appeared on the Internet in which he allegedly advertises nutritional supplements and medicines.

“I already reported the fake interviews to the police, the Croatian Medical Chamber and the Ministry of Health back in July. Advertisements for some medicines appear on Facebook”, said Dr. Paladino in an interview with Faktograf.

And Dr. Kresimir Dolic was able to reveal his interview, which he did not even know about, in which he was presented as an ophthalmologist, even though he is a radiologist. The goal of stealing his identity and the brand of the Dnevnik web portal was to advertise “O caps” vision pills whose “unique formula” was allegedly invented by “a student from Croatia, Vladimir Peric, who lives and studies in the USA”.

Dr. Dragan Primorac, unlike Dolic who was reading his fake interview, found out that he was “arrested” because in one of the interviews he revealed the medicine for hypertension that the pharmacists were hiding. Dr. Primorac was certainly not arrested, and he soon explained via his Facebook that it was identity theft.

And when the identity of an existing doctor is not stolen, fraudsters use stock photos. Just buy a photo of a person in a white coat, make up a name, and there’s a doctor offering a magical cure for diabetes. Doctors like this, created generically, “practice all over the world”. Thus, “Doctor Tomic” is from Serbia and “Luis Rodriguez”, an endocrinologist from Chile, “Luis Rodriguez” is an endocrinologist from Argentina, as well as from Colombia, in Albania, there is a “Doctor Luan Agoli”, and in Romania, it is “Aleksandru Rafila”. Interestingly, the same man appears on a couple of other websites in Serbian, where his name is not “Nebojsa Tomic” but “Jovan Andric” or “Goran Krivosic”, who recommends Dia Drops, a cure for diabetes.

Famous TV personalities as authors of fake interviews

When the theft of the doctor’s identity is not enough, a media brand or a well-known TV personality is misused. Thus, the photo of the N1 journalist, Tatjana Aleksic, along with the graphics of this television, was “added” to a fake interview with a certain non-existent gynaecologist who offers a medicine that will make you pregnant in three months. Tatjana Aleksic explained to Raskrinkavanje.me that this was manipulation and that neither she nor TV N1 had anything to do with the posts on the internet.

Similarly, the figure of the former Podgorica Vijesti journalist and advisor to the former Prime Minister of Montenegro, Ananije Jovanovic, was misused.

Jovanovic was credited with an interview with a certain Montenegrin biology student who lives and works in the USA and who, again, offers a miracle cure. The same situation happened to the N1 journalist from Sarajevo, Sanela Dujkovic.

Leave your details for a “prize”

When they are not offering miracle cures, internet fraudsters offer you prize vouchers for shopping in supermarkets on their Facebook pages. Montenegrin supermarkets Voli and Franca were targeted more than once.

A Facebook user is asked to comment on a post to receive a shopping voucher, then directed to a website where they leave their personal information to claim the prize. Of course, there is no prize.

The Voli company explained to Raskinkavanje that they “can’t manage to react to all these fake prize games” they see on social networks every day.

In the same way, the “prizes” were “given” by supermarket chains Bingo and Konzum, BH posta, INA…  

The motives of these scams are different – but essentially they boil down to the same thing – making money via the Internet, whether it’s collecting followers for pages that will then be sold, stealing and selling personal data, or the most simple one – stealing money through fraud.