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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Beware of advertisements using celebrity endorsement

< previous | next > 14.03.2022

Beware of advertisements using celebrity endorsement
  • A well-known politician encourages investment in cryptocurrencies? A famous sportsman in an interview talks about a venture that guarantees huge profits? An actress urges you to trade on Forex?
  • Do you see such advertising? Do not trust it. Dishonest companies, whose aim is to defraud you of your money, illegally use the images of famous people.
  • The President of UOKiK has consistently warned: beware of offers promising quick, easy and high profits without leaving home and purportedly risk-free.

We receive signals from consumers who have lost money because they trusted information in advertisements that illegally used images of famous people – politicians, actors, athletes. The adverts urged people to invest in risky financial instruments, endorsing their content with a photograph of a well-known person and a fake interview with the person, which the person had no idea about. Consumers, trusting a well-known figure, became interested in the offer and suffered a loss. I appeal to you to approach this type of advertising with great caution and to consult someone close to you. The chance of making money in such ventures is slim, warns Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

The strategy is as follows: consumers, seeing an interview or advertisement with a person they like, become interested in the offer, leave their contact details and are then contacted by callers on behalf of a so-called "investment platform" who do everything to persuade them to open an account and deposit money. Then the contact breaks off. There are even situations where fraudsters obtain consumers' details in this way in order to take out large loans in their names. If a person has been a victim of this, they should report it to the police.

Consumer, beware of:

  • Pyramid selling schemes.

Often the profits are to depend on introducing other people to the scheme that turns out to be a pyramid scheme, which is an unfair and prohibited market practice. In the beginning, the consumer earns a small amount of money as an incentive, while paying disproportionately large amounts into the scheme, but usually ends up losing all the money paid. In addition, such investment platforms are usually registered outside the EU, which is why consumers need to be aware of the risks involved, including the fact that it is very difficult and expensive, sometimes even impossible, to pursue claims.

  • Forex financial instruments.

As a rule, such instruments are designed for very experienced investors who accept the fact that there is a high risk of loss. Forex trading platforms often advertise their activities as some type of "success academies." They present photos and stories of people who are said to have earned a lot of money as a result of the presented methods. In reality, in most investment models, the consumer bets with the developer of the investment platform, who at the same time sets the rules and quotes for currency transactions. The consumer's gain means a loss for a forex platform, while the consumer's loss is the platform's gain. Therefore, using these products is not tantamount to investing, but rather "betting" on changes in the value of, for example, currencies or stock over a specific, usually very short time period. KNF data for 2014-2018 shows that approx. 80% of forex customers incur losses that on average amount to several thousand Polish zlotys per year.

  • Cryptocurrencies.

Many business models are being developed based on the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies. They are used for constructing frauds, i.e. pyramid schemes and other fraudulent schemes. They attract people without adequate knowledge and experience in investing, susceptible to becoming victims of fraudsters who take advantage of their naivety and belief in quick profits. The value of cryptocurrencies is not reflected by real economic indicators. When investing in cryptocurrency-based schemes, one faces the possibility of losing money as a result of virtual theft, as well as risks associated with considerable speculative price changes, lack of widespread acceptability and use in criminal activities, for instance, in money laundering.

  • Chain letters and fake news from the internet.

You should also be wary of chain letters, fake news, suspicious emails and other spam circulating on the internet, even if they purport to come from well-known people or institutions. In some countries, fraudsters link such offers to the so-called "cryptocurrency wallets" and thus you can lose control of your savings. It is best not to click on any links, open attachments, log on to unknown sites or make deposits, as this could be an attempt to defraud you of your money or data. A clue that you are dealing with a scam could be numerous spelling mistakes on a website or in an e-mail, for example.

You are a victim of fraud? Take action!

Unauthorized use of the image of a well-known brand or person is an increasingly common problem in the times of easy creation of fake websites and wide access to photo and logo libraries. Be extremely cautious, therefore, if the "guarantee" of project reliability endorsed by this type of authority is supposed to convince you to invest in high-risk projects. False offers can take many forms!

If you realize that you have been a victim of fraud, react immediately. Inform your bank. Go to www.cert.pl and report the incident to the team that monitors and responds to network security breaches. Inform the police and also try to warn other web users by leaving a comment, e.g. on an internet forum.

Consumer support:

Tel. 801 440 220 or 22 290 89 16 – consumer hotline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
 Consumer Ombudsmen – in your town or district

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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