Think Elon Musk backed your crypto exchange? ASIC’s latest reveal may shock you

Rick Steves

In an absolutely shocking turn of events that nobody could have possibly seen coming, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has bravely stepped forward to reveal that, yes, those videos of Elon Musk passionately endorsing a cryptocurrency exchange are as fake as a three-dollar bill.

Who could have thought, right? In a world where online trust is as solid as a sandcastle at high tide, it turns out that deepfake videos and fake news articles are actually not reliable sources of investment advice. Mind-blowing!

ASIC, together with its partner in crime-fighting, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has uncovered that Australians have been duped out of more than $8 million by these nefarious schemes. The mastermind behind this grand illusion? A scam brand named ‘Quantum AI’, among others with equally futuristic names designed to make you believe you’re investing in the next big thing since sliced bread.

The modus operandi of these digital bandits is nothing short of a B-grade sci-fi plot. They lure unsuspecting victims with the promise of untold riches, using the faces of celebrities like Musk, crafted through the dark arts of deepfake technology. These fake endorsements lead the victims to a scam website, where they’re asked to make a small investment—mere pocket change of $250—to gain access to a trading platform that promises to multiply their money faster than a rabbit in spring.

After a dazzling display of profits on an online dashboard, designed to make you feel like the Wolf of Wall Street, the scammers persuade their victims to invest even more. In a twist worthy of a soap opera, they might even let you withdraw a tiny fraction of your “earnings” early on, just to build trust. But when you try to take out your funds for real, suddenly there are withdrawal fees, tax implications, or you might find yourself locked out of your account, staring at a screen as empty as the promises made by these scammers.

Australian man duped out of $80,000 after deepfake of Elon Musk

ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said: “We are urging Australians to take their time and do their research before taking up an investment opportunity – particularly those seen on social media. Scammers are creating fake news articles and deepfake videos to convince people that celebrities and well-known public figures are making huge sums of money using online investment trading platforms, when in fact it is a scam.

‘These fake videos and news articles circulating on social media and video sharing platforms, often claim that the online trading platform uses artificial intelligence or other emerging technologies such as quantum computing to generate high returns for investors, but it is not true.

“We know of an Australian man who lost $80,000 in cryptocurrency after seeing a deepfake Elon Musk video interview on social media, clicking the link and registering his details through an online form. He was provided with an account manager and an online dashboard where he could see his investment supposedly making huge returns. But when he tried to withdraw the money – he was locked out of his account.

“In addition to referring these scam ads to social media platforms for removal, the fusion cell has developed a trial method for blocking payments to these scams. It has been encouraging to see an overall downward trend in losses reported to Scamwatch to investment scams since the establishment of the fusion cell in July 2023.”

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