MORE Fake News!

Pass the message on!

Happy New Year to you all. Unfortunately, we are writing the first article of 2021 with some bad news. Fake adverts and fake news stories on the internet are on the rise.

Fake News is posted for several; reasons: trying to influence opinion, stock manipulation scams, to sell advertising and most popularly things like celebrity “deaths” which shock people into clicking on the link. Unfortunately, in doing so, they can download malware onto their computers. In some instances, the webpage can turn into large virus warning telling the victim that they have a certain amount of time in which to call the support number at the bottom of the page otherwise the computer will become inoperable. This of course is a ruse and just an excuse for the offending company to charge a large sum of money to purportedly remove a virus, which isn’t even there.

Fake pensions and investment scammers are using online advertising to capitalise on the fact that, since many household finances are stretched due to the pandemic, victims will be tempted into investing savings into a bogus pension scheme or that they will apply for a “free pension review”. However, a free pension review is never free, “it is just the first step on a process that will lead someone to investing in something that is too good to be true” according to Mark Steward, an executive director at the Financial Conduct Authority

Another example is the advert claiming you can become a millionaire overnight. These ads are usually placed next to an image of a famous, wealthy person and the scheme is described as his/her secret and people are encouraged to sign up to learn what their secret to great wealth is.

It would be nice to think that the adverts and “news” stories that appear on high profile sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google will have been through a stringent vetting process, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. So do think before you click!

Should you click on a fake news story, you will need to force your browser to shut down – press CTRL-ALT-DELETE, open Task Manager, select your web browser and click the End Task button. This will kill the fake virus web page. You can then reopen your web browser BUT DO NOT TRY TO RESTORE THE PREVIOUS SESSION.

If you do see a fake story, please do report it to the platform you found it on.

Philip Brooks