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Deceptive online ad exploits WP Chief’s identity to promote suspicious trading platform

Online scams and misinformation, adopting various disguises, aim to ensnare users into unauthorized schemes.

Recently, a suspicious online ad exploits the identity of Pritam Singh, Leader of the Opposition and Chief of the Workers’ Party, echoing a previous scam using PM Lee’s name and image in July.



SINGAPORE:  Online scams and misinformation can take on various forms as part of their malicious tactics to lure online users into unauthorized schemes or scams.

This time, the name and image of Pritam Singh, the Leader of the Opposition and Chief of the Workers’ Party, have become the targets of a suspicious online advertisement.

This advertisement directs users to an article that strongly resembles a previously identified scam, wherein the name and image of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong were exploited.

Prominently positioned at the top of a news website’s main page, this ad prominently displays a photo of Mr Singh and is labelled “Ads by Google” when an icon in the top right-hand corner is selected.

Upon clicking on the ad, users are directed to an article titled “EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Pritam Singh’s Latest Investment Terrifies the Government and Major Banks.”

Within the article, there are false claims that MrSingh is a “savvy investor” and has been “praised for sharing tips that enable people to earn money without the need for a boss.”

Furthermore, the article erroneously asserts that Mr Singh appeared on CNA’s “Asia First” program and announced a new “wealth opportunity” capable of turning anyone into a millionaire within 3-4 months, making exaggerated and baseless claims.

This suspicious webpage appears to mimic the local news website CNA, even featuring its logo. However, the web address does not correspond to CNA’s.

Links on the page, labeled as CNA Insider, CNA Lifestyle, and CNA938 Live, redirect users to a trading platform.

According to the Straits Times, a spokesperson from Google stated that they have “taken action on the ad,” without providing further details.

The spokesperson added, “Google has strict policies that govern the kind of ads we allow on our platform and ads that intend to mislead or deceive users are a violation of those policies.

“When we find ads that violate our policies, we investigate and will take swift action.”

The spokesperson clarified that both automated systems and human evaluators assess ad compliance with Google’s policies and that over 5.2 billion ads were removed from their platforms in 2022. Users are also encouraged to report suspicious ads.

In July, scammers employed a similar tactic by using PM Lee’s name and image on a fake page. The fraudulent CNA report at the time was titled “SPECIAL REPORT: Lee Hsien Loong’s Latest Investment Has The Government And Big Banks Terrified”.

In a Facebook post during that period, PM Lee urged the public not to engage in scams, fake news, or ads similar to the screenshot he shared from the article.

He also encouraged people to report such content via the official ScamShield Bot on WhatsApp. Those who fell victim to scams were advised to file online police reports.

In June 2022, the police issued a warning to the public regarding counterfeit online articles supposedly featuring PM Lee endorsing cryptocurrency auto-trading programs.

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