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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: AI-generated ad uses Willie Ong, Manny Pacquiao for bogus health site

WHAT WAS CLAIMED

Cardiologist Willie Ong and former senator Manny Pacquiao endorsed an unnamed cure for prostatitis or prostate inflammation

OUR VERDICT

Fake:

The original video, posted April 20, 2020, shows Manny Pacquiao sharing tips on staying healthy with Doc Willie Ong.

Apr 24, 2024

VERA FILES

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2-minute read

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A fake ad on Facebook (FB) posted an artificial intelligence (AI)-edited video of cardiologist Willie Ong and former senator Manny Pacquiao, luring people into a bogus health site.

The video shows Ong and Pacquiao supposedly promoting a drug called Vitaman Plus for prostatitis or prostate inflammation. In 2022, the Food and Drug Administration warned people against this unregistered supplement for men. 

Cursory search of the words “Pacquiao” and “Willie Ong” on YouTube pointed VERA Files Fact Check to the original video, published Feb. 17, 2020, where the ex-senator shared tips on how to avoid getting sick. 

Voices and mouth movements of Pacquiao and Ong in the video were digitally altered using AI. VERA Files Fact Check observed the same modus in other recent scams. 

The bogus ad, which appeared on Facebook and Instagram according to Meta’s Ad Library,  carries a link to a website called Wellness Wonders that supposedly offers personalized wellness plans, massage therapies, and weight loss management. 

Clicking on any of the purported services redirects people to an address in Jakarta, Indonesia, which does not exist, according to Google Maps

Posted by FB page Ân Sủng của Thiên Nhiên (Nature’s Grace in Vietnamese), the fake ad garnered 471 reactions, 89 comments, and 43 shares. 

Someone in the comments section who thought the ad was real accused Pacquiao and Ong of enriching themselves through this product endorsement.

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form or send it to VERA, the truth bot on Viber.

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

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