VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Impostor FB pages spread more ‘aircon sale crowd’ SCAMS

Several Facebook (FB) pages are circulating photos, said to have been taken during a crowd crush in a mall due to an air conditioner sale. The pictures were from somewhere else.

These FB posts emerged from Nov. 3 to 11 and continued to circulate this week, receiving over 500,000 recent views according to FB as of Nov. 15.

The untrue posts talked about a crowd crush incident at the “biggest mall in Manila,” accompanied by photos of women who fainted and wide shots of crowds purportedly queuing to buy air conditioners.

One of the captions read: “Although the tragic incident at Halloween in Korea was an expensive lesson, Philippines people STILL DID NOT learn from the experience. Too many people fainted because of jostling, hustling at the biggest mall in Manila.”

The images used in the posts were not taken locally, but in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

The photo of a man in uniform carrying a woman who fainted was taken from a November 2011 image published by Indonesian media organization Antara. The incident happened when a crowd surged into a mall during a sale of Blackberry phones in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Meanwhile, a reverse image search revealed that the second photo of another woman who fainted was taken in Hanoi, Vietnam. In 2015, local news media reported that carbon dioxide gas pooled inside an underground parking lot of a supermarket, causing people to faint and be rushed to hospitals.

The crowd captured on camera gathering outside a stadium was not during a sale of air conditioners. An image search showed this was of people lining up outside the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to buy tickets for a finals cup football game back in 2018.

VERA Files Fact Check has flagged other posts that also misused two of the images in the circulating posts. (Read: Post about ‘MOA aircon sale’ crowd FALSELY used images of malls in Vietnam, Posts claiming ‘Itaewon-like’ crowd crush at MOA FAKE)

All the posts contained links to scam websites that ask for personal information to order the product. Confirming personal details will only lead to a “thank you” page without asking for any mode of payment.

Impostor FB pages Marian Rivera (created on Sept. 18), John Dell Saladaga (Oct. 30), Roel David (June 8) and Victoria Reyes (Aug. 6) published the posts with fraud links, collectively garnering over 9,000 reactions, 4,300 comments, and 400 shares.

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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.)