The scammers use the image and name of the famous cook Maggie Beer without permission to consume hemp jelly and CBD oil, defrauding unsuspecting customers.
The ads falsely promise to help with a number of health complaints, and in some cases use customer data to charge them in addition to the advertised amount.
Fraud complaints now account for more than a third of celebrity scams reported to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission. From the beginning of this year to August 31, the ACCC Scamwatch received more than 485 complaints of scams “using the name, image or likeness of celebrities to sell fraudulent products or promote scams. investing in cryptocurrency, “the ACCC said in a statement.
“The losses associated with this type of scam exceed $ 1.08 million.
“Over the same period, Scamwatch has received more than 180 reports of losses of more than $ 48,000 posing as Maggie Beer trying to sell products such as hemp jelly or CBD oil to relieve pain.”
Often, once the scammer has someone’s credit card information, they will charge the card several times or enroll the person in an expensive subscription service.
The ads combine hemp oil extract with CBD oil, though they are two different things. The packaging states that jelly beans contain hemp oil, which may have some nutritional benefits, but only in much larger amounts.
The ads falsely promise to help with weight loss, pain relief, diabetes, anxiety, indigestion, depression, and prevention of constipation.
Pete Hart, a resident of Adelaide, saw an ad on Facebook featuring Beer, who has condemned the misuse of his name, which promoted the use of jelly beans. He signed up for a $ 80 sample. More than $ 500 was charged to your credit card.
When Hart complained, he was offered “discounts” on the amount charged if he did not tell his bank.
“I realized it was absolute shit … I was very happy to have a test for about $ 80, but when the bill came in it was $ 500,” he says.
“I told them, look, I’ve met Maggie Beer, she’s a lovely woman and she’d be out of it … that’s a bloody scam.
“I just wanted to see if there would be some relief. They’re just preying on those affected.”
Jelly beans claim to contain 100% organic hemp oil extract. They look visually identical to the lollipop gum bears, and the list of ingredients is almost identical to that of a popular American candy brand.
Beer has had to warn people that it is not associated with the products in any way.
“Please have nothing to do with me,” he said in a video posted on his official Facebook page. “Be careful, check the facts and be careful.”
A number of the company that sells jelly beans is not connected. The only other number advertised, for customer service, told Guardian Australia that there was no one who could discuss the matter and hung up.
Dave Lacey is the CEO of IDCare, a non-profit organization that helps victims of scams and identity theft. He said that “criminals” (usually based abroad) place ads on social networking sites creating one that passes the initial scrutiny and then changes them once they are published. They are sophisticated enough to appeal to a specific audience.
“Maggie Beer’s scam will appeal to a particular demographic,” he said. “They … are specifically targeted at the consumer in smart ways.
“Anything where a person with a public profile promotes a product or service, goes online and searches for that person, and very often they say, ‘Listen, I’m not promoting any of these things.'”
The ACCC works with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, telecommunications companies, the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange and non-profit organizations to warn people about scams, especially those affecting culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Report a scam or get help with Scamwatch or IDCare.