Sponsored Twitter post uses fake BBC News site to boost slippery oil trading app

A sponsored post on Twitter promises to offer the benefits of obtaining citizenship, but really just wants to lure you into some form of Forex trading AI scheme. This tangled web also includes faked BBC web pages and suspicious-looking website reviews to round the whole thing off. Shall we take a look?

Sponsored posts are adverts in the form of a Tweet. They’re paid for by the advertiser, and can end up in a variety of locations on your Twitter timeline. As the sponsored post FAQ mentions, you won’t necessarily find them on the profile page of the advertiser. This is something scammers may take advantage of, as rogue ads become a bit of a needle in a haystack to find.

This particular sponsored Tweet has been impacted by Twitter’s community notes feature, where users can add collaborative corrections to mis / disinformation and scams. The tweet is also from a Twitter Blue subscriber, which can grant additional visibility as a subscriber perk.

A sponsored tweet claiming to illustrate the benefits of being British.

The Tweet reads as follows:

“Check out what benefits you can get if you are British”

The Community Notes added to this tweet state:

The link, via many redirects, goes to a fake BBC news page promoting an ‘automated trading platform’ scam.

Clicking the link while using a VPN or the TOR browser, which places you outside the UK, results in an “advertorial” for an article promoting a UK-based immigration advice firm. It is listed on the UK’s Law Society website as a recognised legal practice so that, at least, is on the level.

Clicking the link while appearing to be located in the UK gives an entirely different result, in the form of the previously mentioned fake BBC news article. This kind of scam page has been popular with fraudsters for years. Nothing beats the appearance of credibility like aping a major news organisation!

The focus of the fake site is a get rich quick scheme, via the medium of big oil profits and a supposedly withheld TV show. From the article:

“Dragons’ Den” makes Brits rich with oil! The episode may not be broadcast – the broadcaster is furious!

The popular program Dragons’ Den—the UK equivalent of the US show “Shark Tank”, a talent show-style competition for inventors and business people in the UK—is the initial hook.

A fake BBC website using the show Dragon's Den to promote an oil AI app

From the site text:

(BBC) – The Dragons Den Series 17 is over and viewers can once again look forward to very interesting products and ideas. However, one episode of the show may not be broadcast. This episode is about a system with which Brits people can easily earn £7393.39 from home – and that PER DAY. Yes, you read that right – per day.

BBC has the video footage of this programme and we will explain exactly what this is about and why the station was banned from broadcasting this episode.

BBC met Steven Bartlett, one of the investors on “Dragons’ Den”, and he was quite enthusiastic about this system. “It’s an absolute disgrace that politics is intervening again and wants to keep the system secret. Nevertheless, I hope it goes viral on the internet and as many Brits as possible will use it for financial prosperity,” Steven Bartlett said in an interview with our editorial team.

How are you supposed to make this kind of money? Via something called “Oil Trader AI”, which allows you to generate vast wealth from “coronavirus induced” oil price fluctuations. The site then walks you through the steps of how it all works, and the supposed answer is “You have to deposit $314 into another website and the AI takes care of the rest”.

At the bottom of the page is a form to fill in and secure one of the “few” places available to make use of the AI tool.

A sign up form asking for name, email, and phone number

Once you’ve entered your email and phone number, you’re redirected to a second website. The site shows you as being logged in, and whatever email address you used is now displayed as a username.

Below your own details is a screen purporting to show your balance.

A page claiming to show your trading balance from a trading website, which includes a deposit button.

On the right is the “Deposit Funds” button referenced on the fake BBC page. If you click it, the site displays the following message:

Dear client,

In order to deposit funds to your trading account, your account manager will contact you via the phone in the following minutes, please be available to take the call. If you encounter any issues feel free to contact our support department.

A page on the trading site walking through the steps of making a deposit.

We never received a call, so we don’t know if it involves taking someone through the steps of making a deposit on site or something else.

Reviews for the site are peculiar, however. On the Trustpilot review site, there are 69 reviews and 40 are positive with reviews beginning to appear from April 7 onward. This is unusual for a trading site which was only created in February of this year, and with little visibility in search engine results. This can often be one sign that something may be amiss with a site’s reviews.

Here’s a particularly odd review, considering the site is just a few months old:

A review which claims to have been using the service in question for "several years now".

“I have been with them for several years now and have never experienced any issues. They are a reliable and trustworthy broker”.

This person claims to have used them for years. It’s possible this individual followed them to a new site. However, it seems unlikely that the trading portal wouldn’t mention their last site and Internet presence generally. Plus, we also have the below almost identical review from another user:

A review similar to the first which says "I have been using (the site) for several years now".

I have been using [the site] for several years now, and I have never had any issues with withdrawals or deposits. They are highly reliable and trustworthy, which is critical when it comes to choosing a forex broker.

One other user who gave a five star rating claims “I have been trading with them for a year”.

In fact, there isn’t a single positive rating from anyone with more than one review. Each account has made one review of this one specific site, and then never returned. Meanwhile, there are several one star reviews from people with a varied posting history. As you might expect, they advise you to avoid the site completely.

Seeing all of this, the fake BBC page, and the bogus sponsored Twitter post which started the whole thing does not make me confident about wanting to invest. Maybe I could leave a review?

How to avoid dubious trading offers

Sponsored ads may not be what they seem. Twitter is experiencing several issues currently, due to the new checkmark system and bogus ads running wild. Fake death claims leading to scam sites are a particular problem at the moment. Always read the replies, and the Community Notes if present.

Avoid fake BBC sites. A tried and tested tool of scammers everywhere, this is especially the case where offers and get rich quick schemes are being served up. The real BBC news site can be located here.

Be careful with your data. A get rich quick page asking for personal details should be treated with caution. If you must sign up for something, use a tool to mask your email address or phone number.

Review those reviews. Check the age of the site using a Whois tool, look for links in search engines, and count the reviews. Too many over a short period of time may be suspicious, especially if all of the reviewing accounts are new / have one review each only.

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