The layout of the NOS and NU.nl was abused in July for bitcoin advertisements with statements that Waylon and Armin van Buuren would have made. Other Dutch people warned earlier that their name is used for misleading bitcoin pages. How is it possible that these advertisements continue to show up?
On July 24, NU.nl was warned by a reader that the website was copied and that the NU.nl style was used for a bitcoin advertisement. This turned out to be correct. On the topic-place.com website there was a message with the layout of NU.nl, in which Armin van Buuren explains how he became rich by using 'Bitcoin Profit'. The editors of NU.nl would even have tested it.
This is of course nothing, a NU.nl editor has not gotten rich from Bitcoin Profit and Armin van Buuren does not advertise for this. The counterfeit NU.nl page is not the first misleading bitcoin advertisement. The style of, for example, De Volkskrant , Elsevier and the AD was also abused for this. And on August 13, a new bitcoin advertisement with the NOS logo appeared.
Where do you see this type of advertisement?
These misleading advertisements seem to be spread mainly on Facebook. But we also saw them in the advertising space on other websites, such as NU.nl and the websites of AD , Trouw , De Dagaily Standaard and de Volkskrant .
The people who are tempted by these types of advertisements to invest in bitcoins often lose tens of thousands of euros. The Fraud Help Desk reports that about 2.2 million euros of damage has been reported by this type of advertisement since 2017. In 2019, 1.4 million euros in damages have been reported so far.
Naturally, celebrities are also not happy that their name and face are being misused for this type of advertisement. Alexander Klöpping, Ruud Feltkamp and Ali B., among others, warned of misleading bitcoin advertisements. In summary proceedings against Facebook, John de Mol demanded measures to prevent the spread of misleading bitcoin advertisements. This case is still ongoing.
See also: 'John de Mol and Facebook postpone lawsuit over fake advertisements'
What do companies do to prevent these ads from showing?
A spokesperson for De Persgroep, the company that includes Trouw , the AD and de Volkskrant , informed NU.nl that bitcoin advertisements do indeed sometimes appear on the websites unintentionally. This is because part of the advertisements are sold automatically. There is then nobody who checks the advertisements. According to De Persgroep, there are automatic controls in the advertising sales system that should prevent unwanted advertisers from ending up on the websites. However, some parties are finding ways to avoid controls.
Sanoma, which owns NU.nl, Libelle and AutoWeek , among others, also sells part of the advertisements on its own websites automatically. Before they appear on NU.nl, for example, these advertisements are first checked by a computer.
According to Sanoma, unwanted advertisers are always finding new ways to avoid the controls. The controls are then adjusted again, but this is only possible after it is clear how the control is being avoided.
What a misery those scam ads are for bitcoin companies. Seen yesterday at Volkskrant, today on @NUnl And also logo NOS abused. Keep appearing in Google adsAvatar
Why is it hard to keep out bitcoin ads?
Erik Poll, a cyber security researcher at Radboud University, confirms that it is difficult to automatically exclude unwanted advertisements. He explains that if you want to make sure that this type of advertisement does not appear on your website, you will have to have it checked by a person. "This takes more time and money than the automatic controls currently used by many media."
"Every automated system will constantly have to improve you. Scammers keep coming up with new ways to bypass checks. You can only adjust your checks if you know how they are avoided and therefore unwanted advertisements have already been placed on your website."
What do media do against parties who copy websites?
Both De Persgroep and Sanoma also try to tackle the websites that abuse the style and logos of their titles in several ways. However, in order to legally address the parties behind the bitcoin advertisements, the owners must be known. And both companies know that it is often not easy to find out.
Poll explains that it is very easy to copy a website. "Anyone who can read NU.nl could also copy it. The only thing you can do about this as a website is trying to get the copies out of the air." Poll confirms that this is often impossible. "And that makes sense, you also don't want NU.nl to be taken offline by one email."
What can you do yourself?
Misleading bitcoin ads do not seem to disappear for the time being, but you can also do something yourself to prevent yourself from falling into these kinds of advertisements.
Tanya Wijngaarden of the Fraudeheld desk tells NU.nl that if you see an advertisement about bitcoins with Dutch people, there is a good chance that things will be wrong. "And if something seems too good to be true, then it usually is."