A website posing as The Manila Times uploaded an article on an alleged cryptocurrency automated trading program and claimed it was being promoted by former senator Manny Pacquiao. This is a scam.
On July 31, a Facebook (FB) page shared a link to the fabricated story, which was alleged to have also been carried by other media organizations. Its headline read:
“SPECIAL REPORT: Manny Pacquiao’s Latest Investment Has Experts in Awe And Big Banks Terrified.”
The article cited Pacquiao’s alleged “interview” with TV Patrol anchor Bernadette Sembrano where he supposedly endorsed the platform that can “transform anyone into a millionaire within 3-4 months.”
This is fabricated. The Manila Times did not release such an article and the supposed interview with Sembrano never took place. The fake story was from a website bearing the domain name 24-news.online, not the Manila Times’ official website (manilatimes.net).
This spurious post has been circulating in the Philippines and other countries as early as 2020, featuring different personalities and using names of legitimate media organizations to deceive netizens.
While Pacquiao launched his own cryptocurrency in 2019, partnered with cryptocurrency firms in 2022, and continues to accept crypto donations in his foundation, he did not endorse Bitcoin Loophole in any ABS-CBN news program or on his official Facebook page and website.
Both the Department of Finance and the Securities of Exchange Commission issued warnings against this particular automated cryptocurrency trading program for soliciting investment from the public without a license and using fake endorsements.
In 2021, fact-checking organizations in India debunked an impostor site promoting the same bitcoin investment platform. The report’s content – its title, subheads and statements, is similar to the recent article, but personalities, photos and news organizations featured were changed. Publications in Malaysia and Africa also released articles debunking bogus sites promoting cryptocurrency trading platforms.
The scam resurfaced in the Philippines more than two weeks after cybersecurity firm Kaspersky reported that the country recorded 24,737 cases of crypto phishing in 2022, making it the second most attacked in Southeast Asia last year.
The link shared by the FB page Candy T (created on Feb. 7) drew 473 reactions, 80 comments, nine shares and 223,200 views, according to FB’s ratings tool.
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