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What is a Phony News Scam?

A phony news sales scam is when shocking and conspiratorial news is used to get people’s attention in an effort to later sell them a product or service. These scams rely on the idea that “a lie goes three times around the world while the truth is still putting on its pants.”

Scammers use a variety of media types, including podcasts, social media, and “news” web pages, to spin stories that are exciting and interesting to an audience, but often contain little or no truth.

The false stories are often related to highly emotional issues that an audience may feel connected to, stories related to health concerns or closely tied to a particular political party. The stories bring an audience which the scammer then attempts to sell a product to. These products are often as fake or fraudulent as the stories used to sell them.

How can you protect yourself?
1

Get your news and information from trusted sources

2

Be careful when following links to incredible sounding stories that take you to a different webpage where these organizations can better target you with their products

3

Be careful of purchasing fantastic sounding products that are only available online -if you can’t buy it at a store near you, there may be a reason

4

When purchasing health care related products, always consult with your family doctor first

Are you a victim of a Phony News Sales Scam?

If you believe you have been a victim of a phony news sales scam:

  1. Talk to your credit card company about stopping payment on any purchases, and 
  2. If you have purchased a product that you think is fake or fraudulent, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC says that complaints can help the FTC and law enforcement detect patterns of fraud and abuse, which may lead to investigations that stop unfair business practices.
Additional Resources
  1. State Consumer Protection Offices: https://www.usa.gov/state-consumer 
  2. FTC.gov: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
  3. Econsumer.gov online shopping complaint: https://www.econsumer.gov/en/SelectAType/1#crnt
Deep Cover