Everyday we frequent online users get bombarded with a barrage of Facebook ads disguised as innocent posts and aggressive online adverts urging us to spend our money and try new things.
As more and more people get hooked online, advertisers become more shrewd and creative in luring people into the trap of overspending and compulsive buying. Also, e-fraudsters and scammers have invented new tricks to make easy money off stupid, gullible people.
But unbeknownst to us, there is an ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil online. While online scammers/spammers or e-charlatans have developed new ways to fool unsuspecting netizens, the forces of good have never been remiss in reminding people to be more vigilant and watchful when buying or transacting online, entering into moneyed activities, etc.
Tens of thousands, if not millions, of reminders and online articles have been posted to warn us of various kinds or methods of online thievery that crooked, unscrupulous people use to take advantage of others.
To verify whether a tempting online or Facebook ad is legit or not, the best thing we can do is use the search engine (such as reverse image search engines) to avoid being a victim of online scams.
This is what I exactly did to verify the authenticity of a too-good-to-be-true status ad posted by XForex on Facebook.
On March 11, XForex posted a status ad that shows a woman happily holding a wad of one-thousand peso bills. The ad states:
The trader Karen Ramos from the Philippines has made
$5500 USD From EUR/USD trading! http://goo.gl/ee988 So can you!
Register here: http://goo.gl/ee988
And we will call to train you!
XForex can make money by offering “training” programs or services to interested clients/people.
The XForex ad in question still circulates via Facebook suggested posting and sharing. It appeared on my Facebook news feed as a “suggested post”.
Obviously, ‘suggested posting’ is one way for Facebook to make money. The giant social network offers a very easy paid method for businesses, non-profit organizations and ordinary netizens to promote their products, services, causes, or messages online.
As you can see the post gained nearly 20,000 likes, over 2,000 comments, and almost 800 shares as of this writing. This shows that this ad strategy can be very effective and accessible.
Admit it, we want an easy way to make money. However, we always need to be more alert and vigilant, as creative scammers or fraudsters know know to use every known trick to try and mislead people.
However, I’m not saying the whole XForex gig is a scam.
The status ad says that a Filipina trader named Karen Ramos made a lot of money from foreign exchange trading. I then used the search engine to verify whether this Karen Ramos exists by typing the keywords “Karen Ramos”, trader”, Forex”.
Google churns out the following results:
- Karen Ramos, a trader from India.
- Karen Ramos, a Helium content writer.
- A number of women named Karen Ramos on Linkedin.
Since every advertiser ought to know that it is a cardinal sin to mislead people by using bogus photos or messages, I assumed the woman in the XForex photo is the lucky Filipina trader Karen Ramos herself.
However, my reverse image search investigation shows that the woman in the status ad is nothing but a paid online model.
Consider the following pieces of evidence:
Anyone can purchase the photo from 123rf.com:
Here’s another photo of so-called “Karen Ramos” happily holding a wad of Japanese currency notes:
Here are other photos of “Karen Ramos”:
The photos were copyrighted by a guy named Yuri Arcurs. They are for sale, folks!
Also, here is “Karen Ramos”, posing as a “dental” model:
Surprised? Don’t be. There are hundreds of thousands of bogus ads online! You’ve been warned… Beware!