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Investment Fraud Under Govt’s Radar: How Cybercriminals Use Celebrity Faces to Steal Your Money

Stock market scams luring investors on social media! Deepfakes used, fake tips spread. Here’s how to avoid them!



How Cybercriminals Use Celebrity Faces to Steal Your Money

In today’s digital age, the stock market is becoming increasingly popular among investors looking for financial growth. However, this interest has also attracted cybercriminals who exploit digital platforms to perpetrate investment scams. The government and law enforcement agencies are raising alarms about a new wave of fraud involving sophisticated deepfake technologies and unverified social media accounts.

The Rise of Deepfake-Driven Scams

The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently highlighted a concerning trend: the use of deepfake videos. These are digitally altered videos that make it appear as if well-known personalities are promoting certain stocks or giving financial advice. Scammers use these realistic videos to lend credibility to their fraudulent schemes, misleading individuals into believing they are making sound investments.

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Unauthorized Social Media Guidance

News reports have uncovered numerous social media accounts that offer unsanctioned investment advice, directing followers to invest through specific channels, such as Telegram. These accounts often lack any proper authorization and mislead investors into risky financial moves. “They ask you to invest through a suggested account and quickly move to asking for money to be put in specific stocks,” an official said. The situation worsens as scammers sometimes use deepfake videos of prominent figures to bolster their credibility.

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SEBI’s Caution to Investors

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is advising investors to exercise caution. They warn against trusting stock market tips from social media messages, WhatsApp groups, Telegram channels, or unofficial apps claiming to offer shortcuts to financial success through stock investments.

How Scams Operate

Scammers often create a facade of legitimacy by promising high returns, providing stock tips, and conducting live classes. They lure investors into opening accounts with promises of guaranteed profits, particularly through Initial Public Offerings (IPOs). To appear trustworthy, they might initially return a small amount of money to the investor. However, once they convince someone to invest a significant amount, they typically cut off all communication, leaving the investor with substantial financial losses.

Deepfakes: Blurring the Lines of Reality

The scammers are getting even more sophisticated. They’re using deepfake technology to create manipulated videos that make it appear as if a well-known celebrity or financial expert is endorsing the scam. Don’t be fooled by these convincing but fake endorsements!

How the Scams Work: A Web of Lies

Once they’ve hooked you in, the scammers use a variety of tactics to steal your hard-earned cash. Here’s a common playbook:

  • Promises of high returns and “guaranteed” profits.
  • Exclusive access to “hot stock tips” and IPO allotments.
  • Sharing fake trading apps or links to deposit money.

The criminals may even make initial payouts to build trust before disappearing with your investment once a significant amount is deposited.

Protecting Yourself from Online Financial Scams

Here’s how to avoid falling victim to these online cons:

  • Be skeptical of unsolicited investment advice, especially on social media.
  • Do your research! Never invest in a company or stock based solely on social media hype. Verify the legitimacy of any investment opportunity with a trusted financial advisor or through official sources.
  • Deepfakes are clever, but not foolproof. Be wary of any online video that seems too good to be true, especially if it involves a prominent person endorsing an investment.
  • Stick to legitimate channels. Invest through reputable brokers and platforms registered with financial authorities.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get swept up in the allure of “get rich quick” schemes.
  • Report suspicious activity. If you encounter a fake investment account, report it to the social media platform and the authorities.

Remember: Investing involves risk, and there’s no guaranteed path to quick riches. By following these tips and making informed decisions, you can protect yourself from online financial scams and build a solid investment strategy for the future.

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