Marketing scams: Lies about Jokic’s arrest and exploiting of RTCG


Original article (in Montenegrin) was published on 7/09/2023; Author: Marko Vukajlović

Raskrinkavanje, as well as colleagues from the region, have on multiple occasions been warning of celebrity endorsement scams, which are using public figures without their knowledge and consent. The formula is pretty much the same: they all had some health issue that they couldn’t possibly solve, but (allegedly) with the help of the advertised product, they managed to overcome this in just a few days. The latest such case involved the widely-known presenter Marija Razic, who eventually filed a police report. Former journalist Ananije Jovanovic went through the same thing. N1 journalists Tatjana Aleksic and Sanela Dujkovic were also dragged into such scams.

The latest in a series of these marketing scams came from what was supposed to be the national broadcaster RTCG portal, under the title:

TOP STORY OF THE WEEK: Tragedy in Montenegro! Why was director of the Podgorica Health Center and chief physician Danilo Jokic arrested?

The news was supposedly posted on August 31 on a web page that is absolutely not in ownership of RTCG, nor does it have their URL. A web search did not reveal any information about the arrest of Podgorica Health Center Director Danilo Jokic. In fact, it turns out that a day later, on September 01, he and his team paid a visit to their colleagues in Bijeljina.

In the contentious article, Jokic introduces himself as a cardiac surgeon and talks about cardiovascular problems, which allegedly claimed 50 thousand lives in Montenegro last year. Jokic is a subspecialist in addiction diseases. According to the statistics, cardiovascular diseases are indeed the leading cause of death in our country, but there is no mention of the figure of 50,000 whatsoever. The website of the Institute for Public Health says:

“The data gathered by the Institute for Public Health of Montenegro show that acute coronary syndrome (ACS) – acute myocardial infarction and unstable angina – annually affect more than 1,000 people in Montenegro, the majority of whom belong to the working age population, and these complications get exacerbated by economic implications (components).

According to the latest data available in the Acute Coronary Syndrome Registry, the number of cases recorded was 1,420. The gender distribution of patients indicates a greater male presence in the recorded ACS cases, as 892 ACS cases were reported with men (63%) and 528 with women (37%).

As many as 214 people died from ACS, with almost twice as many of them being male (63.6%) as compared against female patients (36.4%). The majority of the patients who died, 75.2% of them, were over the age of 65. The main cause of death in 95.8% of these patients was acute myocardial infarction, while 4.2% died from unstable angina.”

The point of the entire contentious article is that Jokic was allegedly arrested because he told the truth: that traditional medications against high blood pressure, which is one of the causes of cardiovascular diseases, do not do the trick, and only the product being advertised therein is an effective one.

The article goes on to mention a sense of “agitation” displayed by a certain representative of the pharmacy association, who won’t even hear about the product. He is signed as a leading pharmacist, Ivan Memedovic, with a photograph attached to his name.

There is no such thing as the pharmacy association, however, the man in the photo does exist, but his name is Heraclito Fortes, he has nothing to do with pharmacy, in fact, he is a political figure in Brazil.

Finally, it is important to note that this controversial marketing trick also exploited the personal and professional integrity of RTCG journalist Julijana Zugic, who had allegedly conducted this interview with doctor Jokic. 

How to spot fake ads?

Given that contents of this type are cropping up more and more frequently, here are some tips on how to recognize them:

  • The majority of websites that market a certain product are the so-called landers, the one-page websites that have no other content
  • Clicking on any of the categories listed takes you to a link with product purchase options 
  • There is almost always a 50% discount offered
  • It almost always revolves around a “one-time opportunity”
  • Contents abound with linguistic illogicalities, as if  they had been machine-translated from another language 
  • The figures stated therein are usually exaggerated

This content is rated as fake news.

The “Fake News” label is assigned to an original media report (entirely produced by the media that originally published it) that contains factually incorrect claims or information. The contents labelled as fake news are those identified with full certainty as having been created and disseminated with the intention of disinforming the public and presenting an otherwise completely false claim as a fact.