Home WORLD Ads Inc. closed down, but the tools it used to trick millions of Facebook users still exist

Ads Inc. closed down, but the tools it used to trick millions of Facebook users still exist



In the fall of 2019, Facebook gave San Diego marketing company Ads Inc. Purchased more than $50 million in Facebook ads Use celebrity images without their permission to entice people to join difficult-to-cancel monthly subscriptions.

In response, Ads Inc. laid off employees and terminated operations, and stated in a statement that it “will terminate the operations of Ads Inc. and its affiliates.”

However, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation of the International Federation of Journalists led by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Facebook was unable to keep the company’s remaining personnel out.

Until the closure in April, the web domain ezlp.io previously controlled by Ads Inc. hosted web pages promoting fraud, including People who have suffered financial damage in more than 50 countries. It is currently unknown who can control ezlp.io. The Facebook account used by the company to place ads is also still active. According to people familiar with the matter, earlier this year, these accounts were transferred to a new unknown owner.

Company records in California and Puerto Rico show that Ads Inc. is still an active company, but sources told BuzzFeed News that the company sold or otherwise disposed of any of its assets-including some of its assets Rented Facebook account -It has been dormant since last fall. Ads Inc. was founded by Asher Burke, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Kenya in March 2019. The company is now owned by his property, and its executor is Asher’s father Brad Burke. Brad Burke did not respond to emails or emails sent to his wife and daughter via Facebook.

Facebook vowed to get rid of such ads.

We don’t want ads to try to scam people’s money on Facebook-they are not good for people, weaken trust in our services and harm our business,” Rob Leathern, director of product management at Facebook, told BuzzFeed News. “For this, we don’t just need ourselves. To detect and reject advertisements, to prevent advertisers from using our services, and in some cases to take them to court. “Although there is no perfect law enforcement method, we will continue to study new technologies and methods to stop these illegal advertisements and the people behind them.”

The previous continued operations of Ads Inc. assets underlined Facebook’s inability to completely eliminate fraudsters.

In July, Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen discovered that his pictures were being used by an unknown advertisement promoting crypto investment fraud. He was very angry and wrote to Aura Salla, the head of EU affairs at Facebook, to complain.

Salla replied to apologize on Messenger: “So far, we have discovered that this scam is very smart.” “The number of these scams is so huge that they cannot pass manual checks.”

Before the closure, Ads Inc. lured people into financial troubles by promoting fake cryptocurrency trading products, earning more than $1 million in commissions.

“I have nothing to survive,” Say Maj-Britt, 67-year-old Swedish woman, became homeless after losing her savings and selling her house to make up for similar losses Cryptocurrency investment fraud. (She asked not to disclose her full name to protect her privacy.)

The victims were attracted by Facebook ads, and they falsely claimed that celebrities used automated cryptocurrency trading software to make money, with names similar to Bitcoin Revolution and Bitcoin Code. People are asked to click through to enter their personal information. The information has been sent to the call center and will follow up by phone within a few minutes, asking you to pay. In fact, the software does not exist, and their profits are Haishi Rage Building.

Earlier this year, Dagens Nyheter, OCCRP and other media partners released Fraud factory investigation, The company went deep into a cryptocurrency call center in Ukraine operated by a shadow company under the Milton Group. After the story appeared, a source who claimed to be working in law enforcement contacted Dagens Nyheter.

“I saw [one of] The celebrity advertisement you used to illustrate one of the stories. This advertisement was produced by Ads Inc. “They wrote and shared a link to an online database, ezlp.io, which contains thousands of web pages in multiple languages ​​that use the image of celebrities to promote cryptocurrency investment products. These are Ads Inc. Persuasion pages sent to people to persuade them to hand over personal information.

The company made no effort to conceal its ownership. There is a login screen on the homepage of the site that says “Welcome to Ads Inc.”. Multiple sources confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the news belongs to Ads Inc.

OCCRP found approximately 15,000 pages on ezlp.io, facilitating at least 17 different investment proposals in 11 languages. Since 2018, some products in at least eight countries have received public warnings from regulatory agencies. The Milton Group document also lists the investment brands found on ezlp.io.

This business seems very profitable. Ads Inc. began to promote cryptocurrency investment in the second quarter of 2019. In the slide presentation at the company’s meeting in July 2019, “crypto” was listed as one of the company’s “victory celebrations”, which generated $1.15 million in commission income during the quarter. The document stated that cryptocurrency generated a 120% return on investment, making it the company’s most profitable vertical and a major priority for the next quarter.

After the company claimed to cease operations, whether the site was removed from the control of Ads Inc. is unclear. But it is still being updated with new content until dark on April 25-six months after the advertising company said it had ceased operations.

Internal discussions on Facebook by BuzzFeed News indicate that the company continues to track the activities of former Ads Inc. employees. It is not yet clear what action was taken.

Facebook threat investigators wrote on the company’s internal discussion platform Workplace in October: “My team is still investigating former employees to understand the current state of operations after the company’s dissolution.”


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