AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post featuring a photo of Hollywood actor and director Mel Gibson above a headline reading “How Mel Gibson’s Latest investment Has Australians Making Up To $63K A Month”.
The post, shared as recently as November 25, appears hundreds of times on a public group page named “SPECIAL REPORT?: Mel Gibson’s Latest Investment Has Experts in Awe And Big” (sic).
Each instance of the post tags about 50 other Facebook accounts.
The post links to a page designed to look like a news report about Gibson’s “latest investment” and repeating the photo of Gibson, which also has an inset image of TV host Waleed Aly and the logo of Aly’s TV show, The Project.
The article on the page is titled, “SPECIAL REPORT: Mel Gibson’s Latest Investment Has Experts in Awe And Big Banks Terrified”.
Mad Max actor Mel Gibson has had a stellar Hollywood career but has he really turned his attention to the cryptocurrency boom? AAP FactCheck’s investigation would suggest he absolutely has not.
The article in question has an ABC News logo – from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – in the top left of the page but the page URL – in this instance “mirrorau.com/gibson/” is not a genuine ABC link.
The article claims Gibson appeared on The Project and “announced a new ‘wealth loophole’ which he says can transform anyone into a millionaire within 3-4 months”.
It goes on to claim Gibson told Aly about his “number one money-maker” which was “a new cryptocurrency auto-trading program”. Aly’s name is misspelled as “Ali” throughout the text.
The name of the supposed trading program, Bitcoin Revolution, is hyperlinked and leads to a page of the same name which urges people to sign up and put $US250 into an account.
The article then lists a supposed “ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE WITH MEL GIBSON” with a photo of Gibson bearing an ABC News logo.
AAP FactCheck traced the image and found it is a screenshot from an interview Gibson did on the US ABC News’ television show, Good Morning America, in 2016, where the director spoke about his experiences on directing his son in Hacksaw Ridge.
The purported news story also claims the Bitcoin Revolution cryptocurrency is “backed by some of the smartest tech minds to ever exist. Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Bill Gates just to name a few.”
“Stories linking me to get-rich-quick opportunities such as binary trading and cryptocurrency schemes often appear on websites via links advertised on various social media sites and paid for ads. These are fake news stories,” Mr Branson said in the statement.
Among other fake elements, the purported news article shows a screenshot of a post featuring two young men standing beside a gift-wrapped Ferrari and a claim that a crypto trader bought the sports car for his brother with his profits. The photo is in fact taken from a video produced by hugely successful US YouTube personalities the Dobre Brothers about them buying a Ferrari at “age 19”. There is no link to the use of cryptocurrency.
The fake ABC article also claims an “editor” tested out the cryptocurrency trading program.
The ABC in Australia warned people about a bitcoin scam masquerading as a news story in April 2019.
“The scam ads are tagged as ABC articles, have pictures staged to look like ABC TV screenshots and include quotes under the headline ‘ABC NEWS exclusive’,” the broadcaster said.
“These articles are entirely fabricated. We encourage our audience to exercise caution when reading social media advertisements and articles concerning cryptocurrencies which bear the ABC logo.”
The photo of the “editor” used in the article – of an Australian flag-waving family at a beach – has appeared multiple times online dating back to 2014, not as an editor but as a promotional image on migration and English language education sites.
The article ends with a step-by-step guide on how to “invest” and a large yellow “Register Now” button that links to another page which asks people to sign up with their personal details.
The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) issued a warning about Bitcoin Revolution in October 2019, calling it a “‘get-rich-quick’ cryptocurrency scam”.
Cryptocurrencies, a form of electronic money, have emerged over the past decade and some have risen sharply in value but authorities such as the Australian Securities & Investments Commission have warned that there can be risks involved with trading or investing in them.
Based on the evidence, AAP FactCheck found the Facebook post to be false. Mel Gibson has not appeared on The Project to spruik a get-rich-quick crypto scheme, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Virgin boss Richard Branson and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all warned about such schemes after being named in false articles. The supposed news article about Gibson is falsely presented as an ABC article and presents images taken from other sites in supposed examples of success stories.
False – The primary claims of the content are factually inaccurate.
First published November 27, 2019, 16:28 AEDT