Online scam uses fake endorsements from media personalities to sell products
Lisa LaFlamme is not quitting her job to sell skincare products. Neither is Marilyn Denis or Melissa Grelo.
But bogus online ads using fake endorsements from several Canadian media personalities have left many shoppers confused.
A series of deceptive advertisements are lying to consumers by using a popular scamming technique that has reportedly netted more than $1 billion worldwide.
One of the misleading ads falsely suggests that CTV National News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme is leaving her role to focus on promoting a skincare line. Similar ads falsely suggest that CTV’s Marilyn Denis and Melissa Grelo from The Social are leaving for similar reasons.
"They prey on this idea that I'm leaving The Social and I'm leaving television to pursue this other lucrative career in some kind of either skin care or cosmetic company," Grelo said.
The predatory ads invite shoppers to input their credit card information to try the product. Shoppers are often billed hundreds of dollars. According to the fine print, shoppers aren’t just buying one skin cream -- they’re signing up for a monthly subscription.
According to the Better Business Bureau, millions of people worldwide have lost money after believing fake endorsements.
Social media expert Amber MacArthur says it’s easy to be tricked by the ads.
"I'm not surprised that so many people get fooled by these scams because I think we're a very trusting society, and I think what happens is much of what we see online we assume that it is truthful."
A similar technique has been used to scam American shoppers. Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar of The View both say they’ve had their likenesses used to sell products they never endorsed.
American authorities have been working to crack down on the ads. But in Canada, the media personalities affected have largely had to warn viewers themselves.
Anyone scammed by the ads is advised to call their credit card company and contact police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.