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FACT CHECK: Eye cure promo of Doc Willie Ong FAKE, AI-manipulated

Reporter Katrina Son and cardiologist Willie Ong endorsed a treatment for eye problems.

Facebook page Success strategy 2024-05-14 Fake

The clips in the ad were manipulated through artificial intelligence. Reporter Katrina Son’s clips were taken from an unrelated report while cardiologist Willie Ong’s clips were from a 2022 interview when he ran for the vice presidency.

A video featuring reporter Katrina Son and cardiologist Willie Ong promoting a treatment for eye problems has circulated on Facebook (FB). The clips were altered through artificial intelligence (AI).

Uploaded on May 14, the supposed one-minute and 31-second report from GMA News program ‘Saksi’ bore the headline:

“OPHTHALMOLOGIST: GAGAMUTIN KO ANG IYONG MGA MATA SA LOOB NG 72 ORAS (I’LL HEAL YOUR EYES IN JUST 72 HOURS)!”

In the first clip, Son said she interviewed a doctor who claims to know a simple way to restore eyesight without expensive treatments. The reporter can be heard saying:

Ang doktor ay nagbahagi ng isang simpleng paraan para sa pagpapanumbalik ng paningin. Hindi mo na kailangan ng mga mamahaling gamot o laser surgery. Maaari mong ibalik ang iyong paningin sa bahay. Ang pamamaraang ito ay angkop para sa parehong mga matatanda at bata. Bisitahin ang website at basahin ang recipe para sa produktong ito (The doctor shared a simple method for restoring vision. You don’t need expensive drugs or laser surgery. You can restore your vision at home. This method is suitable for both adults and children. Visit the website and read the recipe for this product).”

This is followed by footage of Ong where he also encourages netizens to buy a product for poor vision and other eye problems on the website. Ong allegedly said:

Ginagarantiya ko na mababawi mo ang iyong paningin sa loob ng 72 oras. Kahit na sa edad na siyamnapu, ang iyong paningin ay babalik ng isang daang porsyento. Ang panganib ng pagkabulag at katarata ay mababawasan sa zero. Huwag palampasin ang pagkakataong ito. Ibinebenta ko lang ang gamot na ito sa aking opisyal na website (I guarantee that you will regain your sight within 72 hours. Even at the age of ninety, your vision will return one hundred percent. The risk of blindness and cataracts will be reduced to zero. Don’t miss this opportunity. I only sell this medicine on my official website).”

This report is fake. Son and Ong’s clips were manipulated through AI.

VERA Files FACT CHECK - THE FACTS: Reporter Katrina Son and cardiologist Willie Ong did not endorse a treatment for eye problems. Clips from Son’s Saksi report last March and Ong’s 2022 interview were manipulated through artificial intelligence.

Son’s video was taken from an unrelated March 27 Saksi news report on the situation of airport passengers during the Holy Week traffic. A deep fake audio imitating her voice was overlaid.

Ong’s clips were taken from his interview with the Global Daily Mirror when he ran for the vice presidency in 2022. A deep fake audio was also used on top of spliced clips from the interview.

The cardiologist has repeatedly disowned fraudulent advertisements using his name, clarifying that he is only endorsing a milk supplement for seniors.

The FB post carries a link to a website with the domain name PHILIPPINES-RESTORE-VISIO-KFJDSDF.WEBFLOW.IO. The site further leads netizens to another site of an eye center in the Philippines.

VERA Files has noted an increase in the number of fake ads that utilize AI to scam netizens. (Read AI-generated ad uses Willie Ong, Manny Pacquiao for bogus health site)

The video uploaded by the FB page Success strategy (created on Dec. 15, 2023) garnered 2,900 reactions, 331 comments, 244 shares and 284,000 views.


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(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)