Seven Facebook (FB) pages impersonating actor Gardo Versoza used altered photos of his hospitalization this year to make it look like he is promoting Navitas Barley Grass Powder.
The FB pages, which all used the artist’s name, posted the fraudulent ads from Aug. 29 to Sept 4. Part of the caption read:
“Pinayuhan ako ng doktor na uminom ng Japanese barley grass powder araw-araw nang tuluy-tuloy sa loob ng 2 buwan, bubuti ang aking sakit (The doctor advised me to drink Japanese barley grass powder everyday for two months, my sickness will get better).”
Versoza denied this. In a Sept. 3 Instagram post, he said:
“Wala po akong ineendorsong ganitong produkto… Wala rin po silang pahintulot na gamitin ang anumang larawan ko lalo pa yung nung nahospital at inatake ako (I don’t endorse such products… They also don’t have permission to use any of my photos especially those of when I had a heart attack and was hospitalized).”
This August, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory against the distribution, sale, and consumption of the unregistered barley powder food supplement.
The fake ads directed people to website links (healthycare.click, shopkorea.online, httstore.website) that supposedly sell the product.
To add legitimacy to the scam, the ads used Instagram photos showing Versoza after he suffered a heart attack in March and underwent angioplasty, as well as an image of cardiologist Willie Ong.
Ong previously warned people against fake ads and scammers using his name and face. He said he only promotes one milk supplement as part of an advocacy for the elderly.
The scammers also used a selfie posted on March 29 by Versoza’s wife, Ivy Vicencio, with her husband lying on a hospital bed.
The fake ads garnered a total of over 16,418 interactions. These appeared around the time Versoza, a cycling enthusiast, criticized a retired police officer who cocked his gun in front of a cyclist.