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The Media The Almighty Buck

Fake News Scam Sites Advertising On Real News Sites 128

Posted by kdawson
from the maze-of-twisty-passages dept.
Virtual_Raider writes "Wired is running a story about a new twist in the never-ending quest to prove P. T. Barnum's adage. Old: Scammers are creating fake news sites that look almost like the real thing. New: They are advertising on real news sites, making it difficult for unwary readers to catch on they are being duped with fake coverage of get-rich-quick scams. Among those running the scam 'news' ads are the Huffington Post and Salon. From the article: 'The story has art, it has a sidebar, there's weather, supposed reader comments — even ads. Steadman is described as "a mother from San Francisco" — at least, when I read the article. Thanks to cutting-edge reporting techniques perfected by News 5, she will automatically move to the geolocation of your internet IP address when you read it. Look, she lives right in your neighborhood!'" Forbes also wrote about the scam news sites a couple of weeks back.
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Fake News Scam Sites Advertising On Real News Sites

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  • by kclittle (625128) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:30PM (#28485341)
    ... just to get you to click thru
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Abreu (173023)

      And we all know he's undead... Like in the movie Death Becomes Her, Jacko has been touching himself up with latex and paint for years...

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'm pretty sure he had been touching himself with latex, but not in the manner in which you stated...
    • by billstewart (78916) on Friday June 26, 2009 @04:09PM (#28487523) Journal

      Haven't got my first one of them yet, but the news reports have been saying that Twitter, Youtube, and ITunes have been getting swamped with Jacko traffic, and spammers have already started firing out scams, probably "Click here to install the video player so you can see Michael Jackson video" etc.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by cheftw (996831)

        Thanks for the info, just started this 3 weeks ago. I've gotten 2 checks for a total of $1900, pretty cooll.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:31PM (#28485345) Journal
    Intriguing article. I like the ad that uses Barbara Walters' photo and claims

    Barbara talks about the "Miracle Pill" known as Resveratrol

    Notice they didn't user her last name. But they use her image and the abc News logo ... their domain name is hilarious, news3news.com [whois.net] (looks like newsnews and 3news were taken, ha) which leads one to the registrant residing at:

    PO Box 12068
    George Town, Grand Cayman KY1-1010 [google.com]

    P.O. Box in the Cayman Islands. Imagine that. They don't even bother to use domainsbyproxy [domainsbyproxy.com] or a similar service like most of the other domains listed in this Wired story.

    Selling questionable meds is probably pretty hard to prosecute ... but using abc's logo and Walters' image for advertising is definitely prosecution worthy. I hope some of these companies go after this scum.

    • by Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:58PM (#28485785)
      I looked into the google money tree scam a few weeks ago after my girlfriend got a cellphone text message from a suspicious (and non requested) source trying to get her to sign up for it. She is not tech savvy, but she knows when something smells fishy. Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of people who are not tech or street savvy have gotten pulled into this scam, being charged 80 dollars a month for freely available information and having a difficult (practically impossible) time canceling the service, let alone getting their money back.

      The only out the shadow company has is in their fine print, as always - even that is obscured as some of the shell sites have a timer running on their T&C page - it redirects you back to the entry page shortly after you start top read the T&Cs. Of course the rates are listed at the bottom of the page. Using noscript will allow you to view them at your leisure, but how many average Americans are using noscript and researching this in the first place?

      A shame really - just one more example of how P.T Barnum was right, but also more disgusting is how some folks are willing to dup others out of their cash.
      • I'm curious what the information they are providing is. (I, like you, think it is free elsewhere).

        Are they just point to info on google adsense or other stuff like that? Or does it start with, "create a fake news site with this TOS and take credit card numbers...

        If so someone could create a site that aggregates their keyword names and points out not only the scam, but the worthless crap they're selling.

      • Yesterday, I looked at my Google mail, and in the advertising area in the bar above your in-box messages, I am pretty sure it was an ad for the Google Cash Kit, or some variant. I didn't click it to find out what it really was, so I can't confirm it.

        Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback.

    • by tb3 (313150) on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:10PM (#28485937) Homepage

      I think the crackdown should be on Visa and Mastercard. Think about it; it's illegal to receive stolen goods, or sell stolen property, but the credit card companies are acting as intermediaries for these crooks. And, oh yeah, taking a cut (something like 3 - 5%). If the credit card companies had to take more responsibility for who they granted merchant accounts, under penalty of law, I'll bet these fraudsters would find it a lot harder to operate.

      • by paazin (719486) on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:22PM (#28486105)

        I think the crackdown should be on Visa and Mastercard. Think about it; it's illegal to receive stolen goods, or sell stolen property, but the credit card companies are acting as intermediaries for these crooks. And, oh yeah, taking a cut (something like 3 - 5%). If the credit card companies had to take more responsibility for who they granted merchant accounts, under penalty of law, I'll bet these fraudsters would find it a lot harder to operate.

        Interesting idea and it seems like it'd have some worth - but considering the power of these industries, it's pretty much just a pipe dream as they won't allow congresscritters to do that.

        • Recently both Google and slashdot have been running ads for "you can make 11,668.00 from home" lately. The ads are served up by google to sites like slashdot, and it's the same modus operandi: Ask you for $2 for information, then bill you $70 to $90/month for a "subscription" you supposedly agreed to.

          For search pages, google can argue that it's just conveying information for free. For ads it serves, google has no such safe harbour - it's a for-profit business, and they really should crack down on these obvious scams.

      • by swb (14022)

        I've long argued that spamming/internet fraud operations should be taken down with RICO-style prosecutions that include all the "legitimate" business entities that wink-wink-nudge-nudge participate in the fraud associated with spam. SOMEBODY has to process the credit cards used to buy penis pills, transfer monies, provide hosting, etc. MANY of these entities realize they are dealing with someone less than above board but don't care (or charge more!) and supply services anyway.

        Once a few major ISPs, hostin

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I'd love to see more prosecution of fraud, but the problem with going after banks, credit card service providers etc. is that it will raise prices and limit selection for legitimate products and services.

          If the alternative is that idiots get screwed trying to get rich, healthy or "confident" quick, I know which strikes me as the lesser evil.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ironica (124657)

        I think the crackdown should be on Visa and Mastercard. Think about it; it's illegal to receive stolen goods, or sell stolen property, but the credit card companies are acting as intermediaries for these crooks. And, oh yeah, taking a cut (something like 3 - 5%). If the credit card companies had to take more responsibility for who they granted merchant accounts, under penalty of law, I'll bet these fraudsters would find it a lot harder to operate.

        Interesting thought. How, though, are the CC companies supposed to judge who is a legitimate business and who is committing fraud? What procedures would you have them put in place? What is their burden to examine their customers' business practices? What rights do they have to terminate a merchant account based on what kind of business they conduct? Would merchants have reciprocal rights protecting them from wrongful termination? What would be the limits on the CC company's liability for loss of busin

        • by WNight (23683)

          How, though, are the CC companies supposed to judge who is a legitimate business and who is committing fraud?

          Basic understanding of the law. Listening to customer complaints. There are other things for later, but that'd be a huge step forward.

          I dealt with Visa's complaint dept and they took the side of the merchant without *any* investigation. They quoted part of the site's terms and conditions to me, without realizing that what I'd said invalidated that. In other words, just template crap for a merchant they'd obviously gotten complaints about before.

          Even if there was no crime (unlikely) there certainly was evide

        • by dodobh (65811)

          There's already precent for this though. allofmp3.com is a nice precedent to cite. Visa and Mastercard already did this once, they should do it again.

    • by numbski (515011)

      Well, Resveratrol isn't a "med", it's just a compound found in red wine that may very well have beneficial side effect, but it's unproven in humans (at least, so far).

      It's still sleazy as all get out, but just to be fair - resveratrol is perfectly safe as a supplement, but it's by no means a "med". :)

    • Selling questionable meds is probably pretty hard to prosecute ... but using abc's logo and Walters' image for advertising is definitely prosecution worthy. I hope some of these companies go after this scum.

      Unfortunatly, the worst they'll get is a Cease and Desist letter, at which point they will move on to some other image / name theft. This is really not much different than the fake drug sites (are there any REAL on-line pharmacies?).

    • by IorDMUX (870522)
      Hmm. According to the article:

      Mary, a mother from <script type="text/javascript">document.write(geoip_city());</script>, <script type="text/javascript">document.write(geoip_region());</script> is thriving,

      geoip_city()... I think I may have been there once or twice.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:32PM (#28485381)
    The summary could at least tell us what news sites it is showing up on. Huffington Post and Salon are almost as reliable as The Onion.
    • Now what did the Onion do to deserve being listed with HuffPo~

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Uhm, they are all perfectly reliable if you realize they aren't in any way trying to be real news sites and that its a gag every time.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree, you should also add the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, CBS, NBC, CBC, CTV, and anything that else that isn't Fox News.

      Let's face, the only true source of News today is Fox News.

      Wish everyone would just block MSNBC, ABC, NBC, New York TImes and CNN from their network.

      Fox News is the only American News source which is not afraid to stand up to Obama, and provide all information to it's viewers. Why is it that Fox News is the only news source in American willing to question about the US government is do

    • The Huffington Post and Salon have news with liberal commentary. The problem here is that the news is based on reality and facts. As Stephen Cobert pointed out (at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner,) reality and facts have a well known liberal bias. So you see it is difficult to have a fact and reality based site based on facts and reality without it being liberally biased. I supposed you could just make stuff up like Fox news does. Then you would have a "fair and balanced" site full o

      • How about we try a quote of longer standing, "If you are young and conservative, you have no heart. If you are old and liberal, you have no brain."
  • Real News? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bigby (659157) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:33PM (#28485391)

    What site brings real news? (except Slashdot, of course)

  • by wrekd (1394005) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:35PM (#28485431)
    We are all traveling on the disinformation superhighway.
  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:35PM (#28485435) Journal

    I got redirected to an obviously fake news site [slashdot.org].

  • Old news. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:36PM (#28485445) Journal

    Newspapers run similar ads (with a tiny "Paid Advertisment" banner on the top) and I've heard of TV stations doing the same thing with "Fake Newscasts [nytimes.com]" but that's usually more common during election years.

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      Newsweek would run special paid reports about device to improve fuel efficiency (think it used a magnet to atomize the fuel or some such).

      I was quite shocked they would allow something that looked like a real article to soil their pages (I mean it was way out there).

      • Yea, in the last 10 years or so that stuff has started cropping up in more and more respectable publications. When you see one in the New York Times, you'll know the end is nigh.

        What can you do? Full page ad money is huge, and they need the money badly. They justify it to themselves with the little banners on the top telling people it's an ad, but the point is obviously to mislead people, and it almost certainly works because they keep paying for it. What a way to whore your credibility...I mean who gives a

    • by SomeJoel (1061138)
      Sports Illustrated sometimes runs paid articles (that are marked as Paid Advertisements). I'm sure other magazines do as well.
    • by Abreu (173023)

      Fake newscasts are the reason I no longer watch the news on TV... And since Radio news is a refuge of the rightwing wackos (at least where I live), I am left with newspapers and the internet. ...so visiting newspaper's websites (with adblock plus) is the best compromise for me

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DriedClexler (814907)

      Yeah, and back in 2004, some anti-Bush spammers bought long ads on CBS deliberately designed to look like real CBS news, even including a doctored video made to look like Dan Rather presenting documents proving Bush skipped out on his National Guard service.

      What's funny is, they didn't even bother to make the documents look realistic.

      Why CBS even approved the "ads", I have no idea.

  • Barnum (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deadstick (535032) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:39PM (#28485479)
    the never-ending quest to prove P. T. Barnum's adage

    I'll give the author a pass on the libelous misattribution, and just point out that Barnum did not take your savings or your mom's Social Security check. He promoted a lot of hokum, but he took your fifty cents and sent you home satisfied.

    And he brought us Jenny Lind...

    rj

    • I'll give the author a pass on the libelous misattribution,

      You can't libel the dead.

    • the never-ending quest to prove P. T. Barnum's adage I'll give the author a pass on the libelous misattribution, and just point out that Barnum did not take your savings or your mom's Social Security check. He promoted a lot of hokum, but he took your fifty cents and sent you home satisfied.

      I think that you're a little confused. The adage that was being referred to is the famous quote: "There's a sucker born every minute."
      Whether he actually said it is another matter.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There's_a_sucker_born_every_minute/ [wikipedia.org]

  • I get

    "Mary, a mother from Crowborough, E2 is thriving"

  • Here is how it works (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:56PM (#28485743)

    For those wondering how these advertisers make money here is the basic rundown.

    1. They pitch you the product with a news site as mentioned above or a flog (fake blog) posing as a midwestern housewife giving a legitmate review of the product. Unauthorized endorsements by Ophrah and Barbra Walters are also popular.

    2. Rebills, you pay the $2.00 you think it costs to buy the product. Turns out that's only for the 15 day free trial and so they can get your credit card. If you don't call them and cancel within that time they will charge another $100/month or so to get the product shipped to your house ever month. They bury this fact in a page long terms and conditions no one ever reads.

    3. Acai, Resveratrol, Colon Cleanse, bizops (get rich quick), Google Money Tree and the like are popular products.

    4. Most of the people doing this aren't big companies, but affiliate marketers who get a substantial cut every time they refer a sale.

    5. Thankfully the FTC and state attorney generals are trying to crack down on this sort of thing.

    • 5. Thankfully the FTC and state attorney generals are trying to crack down on this sort of thing.

      Are they? Why am I still seeing advertisements for Enzyte [wikipedia.org]? They may cancel your "order" appropriately now, since owned by someone else now, but they still do exactly what you described... along with many others. It is not just on the Internet, it is on your TV. It is in your radio. It honestly seems like no one really gives a shit.
      • by swb (14022)

        I think some of the smarter scammers have realized that they can take the $2 come-on and the $100 initial renewal essentially forever with no government interference if they are prompt and responsive about canceling subscriptions after that.

        It's the scammers who think they can get away with the $2 and many months of the $100 renewals that seem to bring in the government, eventually.

        But remember, the scammers alone aren't making money on this. Banks, merchant account providers, etc. all make a cut and work

  • This isn't much news, there are ads over most of my local stations with fake "self improvement" guides. My favorite was an ad that said "Hurricane season is near, are you prepared?", this ad was on a midwestern news station. Quite funny.
  • And it is. It's run by an evangelical theo-conservative crazy. The fact is, any news organization owned by a large corporation is basically fake. You get the corporate view. Fox "news" and "CNN" are just mouthpieces for this. Both are politically themed amusement for the rubes. For real news, let a thousand relatively uncensored blogs bloom.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      "You get the corporate view. "
      No, it depends. Fox is highly biased. Even in the wording of the actual stories. (I also know it happens ine diting when choosing who to air. And the Type of person the decided to interview on the spot).

      CNN isn't nearly as bad. They also usually say when there information is weak.

      "For real news, let a thousand relatively uncensored blogs bloom."

      No, many blogs don't do any fact checking and most are far more biased then anything on the air.

      • But the biases cancel out. I'm aware that fact checking doesn't always happen. It doesn't on network news either. Remember Dan Rather?
    • For real news, let a thousand relatively uncensored blogs bloom.

      "Real news" involves professional reporters, investigative journalists, phone calls, interviews, and a strict editorial process that vets anything before it goes live.

      Blogging involves leeching off the above with the commands Ctrl+c and Ctrl+v and frequently adds nothing more but spin.

  • I read about these fake news sites on The Obama Forum [theobamaforum.com] and they said that Obama will be censoring those websites very soon.
  • Served by Pulse 360 (Score:4, Informative)

    by ntsucks (22132) on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:25PM (#28486149)

    For your amusement, here is another one that is running: http://the-daily-tribune.com/breaking/13/?t202id=4693&t202kw=6417707

    I see a ton of these ads served by a company called Pulse 360 [pulse360.com].

    • First of all, the crap at the end of that link is bullshit to make it look like a real news site. The whole domain has only one breaking news posted on it, so you can go to http://the-daily-tribune.com/ [the-daily-tribune.com] to see the breaking news.

      But I went there and the page is titled "The Mason DAILY TRIBUNE" and the story is about Mary, a mother from Mason, OH... and here's the funny thing, I am connected through an ISP in Mason, OH. If I had an IQ of a cell phone totting minivan driving soccer mom, I'd say "OMG that's t
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The comments down at the bottom are all spelled correctly and using proper grammer.

  • The other day I remember there being a lot of ads for mate one on CNN. The many good looking 'single' girls that are in my area ads from mate one were funny.

    Mate one is a hook up site. Or see how many single guys you can get to respond to my ad site. I am not sure which. Cause the census of 20 25-40 year old people by me agree that most of the ads from women, are ads from guys pretending to me women.

    I wonder if big sites are using ads rotation from another site, and that other site got hijacked? It seems od

  • Oh Come On (Score:3, Funny)

    by castorvx (1424163) on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:46PM (#28486379)
    Fox has to get traffic somehow.
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      They do? CNN and ABC better do a story on that pronto.

    • Ahem, you might want to RTFS ... Salon and HuffPo were the ones caught serving this crap. Arianna is gonna slap the hell out of you for confusing her site with Fox.
  • Since when (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    is The Huffington Post consider a "news" site?

    If I want to listen to idiots foaming at the mouth and blaming all the world's problems on a President who's been out of office for almost six months, I'll turn on MSNBC.

  • Someone used my Gmail address to create a Twitter account to pump a google links get rich quick scam.
    I hadn't checked my Gmail for a few weeks and in that time someone used my email address to set up a twitter account. I had tons of tweets from strangers in my inbox. Some dude from wisconson was running some get rich quick scam with google links. I had never signed up for a twitter account so I decided to take it away from the scammer..

    Voila, down goes one scammer/spammer and a twitter account for
  • by tholomyes (610627) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:04PM (#28486615) Homepage

    "Sometimes the thing that you think isn't a scam, is a scam, and the thing that you think is a scam, isn't a scam at all. And sometimes that, itself, is the scam! So as you can see, things can be pretty tricky out there for consumers."

    "And for reporters!"

  • When will websites be responsible for the content of their ads? I'm sure that most of these sites have no idea what ad at any one time will appear in a given box.

    • Generally larger websites have an entire department dedicated to selling adspace and managing the ad content that is displayed. Since it is the primary source of revenue for websites, it is hard for me to believe that they don't know what they are advertising.
  • Has anybody else noticed the use of moms in banner ads?

    From one site alone, I'm given to understand that a mom has discovered the secret to weight loss, a startling new method of teeth whitening, and revealed to us the miracle of the a'cai berry. I guess this is why Obama wants them to return to college (online college, naturally).

    What gives? Targeting a new market? Playing off the old 'mom knows best'? An extension of the old advertising strategy where the man is an idiot but his wife has all the answers

  • What's funny about this story is that it's Wired dot com that's complaining about "phony news stories" that are really advertisements.

    8 out of 10 stories on Wired dot com are little more than advertisements. I started counting the stories that appeared there in the last few months alone: Let's see, we had a story about how the iPhone was going to transform the video game industry. Another one about how the iPhone was going to transform personal communications (because it now had a movie camera), how the

  • What real news sites?
  • It was pretty easy for me to spot these... cause I live the FL Keys and they tagged everything with Key West.... mom, internet entrepreneur, teeth whitening, etc. Except for moms, we don't have any of those... especially white teeth...

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