NZ Labour politician Ayesha Verrall speaking to a reporter.
The likeness of NZ Labour politician Ayesha Verrall has been used in a scam ad on Facebook. Image by Ben McKay/AAP PHOTOS

Deepfake of NZ politician Ayesha Verrall used in scam ads

David Williams June 20, 2024

New Zealand politician Ayesha Verrall advertised a high blood pressure treatment in a Facebook video.


False. The video is a deepfake generated using artificial intelligence tools.

AAP FACTCHECK – A social media post claims to show New Zealand politician and former health minister Ayesha Verrall advertising a treatment for high blood pressure.

This is false. The video is a deepfake created with artificial intelligence, and the Labour politician’s office says she did not appear in it.

A Facebook post features a short video purportedly showing Labour MP Ayesha Verrall, the health minister and COVID-19 response minister in Jacinda Ardern’s government, advertising a hypertension treatment.

A screenshot of a deepfake video of NZ politician Ayesha Verrall.
 The deepfake version of NZ MP Ayesha Verrall in an ad for a hypertension treatment. 

“Dear New Zealanders, doctors are killing your heart. My name is Ayesha Verrall, and I have suffered from high blood pressure for over 15 years. At the age of 50 I was diagnosed with hypertension, headaches, ringing in the ears, increased blood pressure, impaired vision and other symptoms that I had all the time,” she says in the video.

The text of the post says: “Why do pharmaceutical companies hate Dr. Ayesha Verrall? Because he (sic) found a way to completely eliminate hypertension.”

The depiction of the Labour MP in the video claims she was diagnosed at the age of 50, but the real Dr Verrall is only 45.

The video bears many hallmarks of a poorly produced deepfake — her mouth doesn’t match her speech, she has an unnaturally monotone voice and she reads punctuation from the overlay script, such as “dot”. 

Dr Verrall’s office says the Labour MP did not appear in the Facebook video.

“This is not a true or accurate depiction of Ayesha Verrall,” a Labour spokesman told AAP FactCheck

“These are not her opinions or experiences.”

Clicking on the link in the suspicious Facebook ad takes users to a fake version of the Google Search homepage.


Treat posts appearing to show well-known figures and celebrities promoting new products with caution if they include more than one of the following features:

* The people speak with unusual pauses, stilted speech patterns or inconsistent accents.

* Their mouth movements aren’t in time with their speech, or their facial expressions and movements don’t match their speech tone.

* The videos are low-resolution or stutter.

* The source and/or context of the video is unclear.

The Verdict

The claim that New Zealand politician Ayesha Verrall advertised a high blood pressure treatment in a Facebook video is false.

The video is a deepfake created using AI technology.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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