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Scam Alert

Fake News Websites Pitch Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

The real news: The sites are advertorials

The fine print

Study the screen of these pages carefully and you may see the word "advertisement" at the top.

Read the fine print way down at the bottom. Here's what you'll see: "We are not affiliated in any way with any news organization." "All photos/images on this site are stock photography." "This website, and any page on the website, is based loosely off a true story, but has been modified in multiple ways including, but not limited to: the story, the photos, and the comments. Thus, this advertisement, and any page on this website, are not to be taken literally or as a non-fiction story."

One often-shown "reporter" photo in fact shows Mélissa Theuriau, a popular French newscaster.

According to the FTC, one defendant who had some 40 websites selling acai berry products used her photograph on at least two, under the names of reporters Julia Miller and Monica Weissenbaum. On other fake news sites, Theuriau's photograph has appeared under the names of Stacie Sandler and Amy Connor.


Don't fall for get-rich-quick schemes. — Jean Claude Moschetti/REA/Redux

Changing places

To create the illusion of a local connection, the hometown of customer Kelly Richards can change depending on your computer's add ress on the Internet.

If you live in Philadelphia and click on a Web ad or email telling her story, that report claims she lives in Philadelphia. If you live in Washington, D.C., the text of the same phony news report has her living there.

Is marketing through fake news venues a reputable way to do business?

In an email, Scam Alert asked this and other questions to Ryan Tewis, who, with his wife, promotes several work-at-home offerings in this way. According to the Better Business Bureau, they include Automatic Profit System, which the bureau has given an "F" rating, citing 57 complaints.

According to the BBB, Online Revenue Solution is also known as Automatic Profit System. And Home Revenue System, with Angela Tewis listed by the BBB as the primary contact, gets another "F" rating.

Next: Company response. >>

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