Q: How d o people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 pose a risk to people who have been vaccinated?
We reached out to Fox News about the deceptive ads leveraging the network’s brand, but didn’t hear back.
We called the number listed for Prime Nature and were connected with a third-party customer service line. An operator, who said he was based in the Philippines, said he could not disclose any contact information for Prime Nature — or the other companies with which the customer service line works.
For instance, one Facebook ad displayed the headline, “Laura Dismissed From ‘The Ingraham Angle,’” with a photo of Laura Ingraham. The ad linked to a post on vegetablefoods.net headlined, “Trust Isn’t the Key to Business Partnerships.”
In the latest blitz, the deceptive stories were surfaced to Facebook users through ads that vaguely suggested the Fox News stars were on the outs with the network. Once users clicked on an ad, they were taken to dubious websites where the full-page ads were made to look like Fox stories — with barely noticeable fine print at the bottom indicating they were ads — that masked what would otherwise appear to be benign blog posts.
The company — which received a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan in 2020 — is actually managed by George Southworth, a Florida businessman, who didn’t respond to our requests for comment. The company’s primary address is the same as another company registered to Southworth called Well Being Labs. Both share the address of Southworth’s concrete business.
Federal Trade Commission. Complaints — Eagle Hemp. Freedom of Information Act request. 18 Aug 2021.
We reached out to Facebook about the ads, and a spokesperson told us that the “ads violate our policies and we have removed them.”
“WellBeing Labs | Complaints.” Better Business Bureau. Accessed 16 Aug 2021.
AdaptiveMobile is also tracking the number of spam messages scammers are sending out. It’s seen a leap since last week, when below 1% of all SMS spam was related to coronavirus, rising to 6.5% on March 17. “Our estimates would be that on March 17, that a range of tens of thousands to low hundreds of thousands of people in the US were targeted by SMS Spam coronavirus-related attacks. Most of these would have been blocked, but some can get through as spammer adjust and change their attacks.”
Other scam text messages include those offering payday loans of up to $5,000 and alerts for breaking “emergency” news on COVID-19 spreading in the recipient’s area.
It’s not just email scammers are using to target people who’re concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. Masses of text messages are being sent out to Americans, with one pushing a fake Fox News article promoting CBD oil as a treatment for the virus.
Links within that article then takes the user to other fake sites where they’re asked to sign up and buy CBD oil. “Regardless of their efficacy, whether the recipient would actually receive any of these items is uncertain,” AdaptiveMobile wrote in a report on Thursday.
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Researchers are warning about fake Fox News on coronavirus being spread by scammers via text . [+] message. They’re trying to get people to believe CDB oil is a COVID-19 remedy.
Examples of coronavirus SMS text spam.
And one of those messages promoting CBD oil as a potential cure includes a link, which takes the user to a fabricated Fox News article on the apparent benefits of the supplement.
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There’s a simple thing affected Americans can do: forward the text message to their carrier at 7726. Otherwise, the advice from AdaptiveMobile’s Cathal McDaid was simple: “Stay safe, wash your hands, and don’t click on strange links.”
According to researchers at telecoms security provider AdaptiveMobile, amongst a wave of spam texts are messages with offers on masks, survival guides and medically-unsupported COVID-19 treatments like CBD oil.