For more than a year now, the semi-state energy company ČEZ has been fighting fraudulent advertisements that, for example, call for alleged investments or request payment data from people through various links.
The company’s management has filed several criminal complaints against unknown perpetrators. Most recently, for misuse of the logo and infringement of ČEZ trademark rights.
“Unfortunately, despite all the steps we are taking, this is a long run because the creators and sponsors of these ads are practically untraceable,” warned ČEZ spokesperson Barbora Peterová. Even for criminals, it is often a battle with the windmills.
According to her, fraudulent advertisements often include those in which the advertisers, mainly on social networks, entice users to invest in alleged ČEZ shares and subsequently appreciate the deposit.
“Of course, this is false advertising because the scammers then lure account numbers, card numbers, and even the security code from the interested party. Then they hack into these accounts and take the money,” Peterová said. Recently, for example, two gullible senior women in the Olomouc region lost tens of thousands of crowns when they were lured by the aforementioned advertisement.
Another scam is an attempt to attract people to a new method of automatic cryptocurrency trading that was supposedly developed by ČEZ. The apparent credibility of such advertisements is enhanced by the fact that they contain completely fictitious statements by representatives of the ČEZ Group. They promise unrealistic profits and call for registration.
Fraudsters often disguise their efforts as newspaper articles with stories about specific people and reinforce them through deep fake videos (artificial intelligence technology that creates fake videos that give the impression of authenticity).
They use ČEZ Group photographs, logos, and graphics, but they are placed outside the company’s official domain. In addition, they often have a foreign “com” or “ru” instead of the “cz” ending.
Always one step behind
These misleading advertisements aareften spread via social networks, especially Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
ČEZ is trying to fight against this. In addition to criminal complaints, for which the police htoe failed to find the perpetrators, the company has also teamed up with social and internet network operators, such as Facebook and YouTube.
“We are in contact with them and are negotiating to withdraw and block the ads. We are also warning about this fraudulent behavior on all our social network profiles and asking users to report this behavior and draw attention to such posts,” the CEZ spokeswoman said.
The company also warns against fraudulent practices on its website.
Peter admitted that the company is always one step behind in the fight against fraudsters. “The ad has to appear somewhere so we can get it blocked. We have already managed to block hundreds of such fraudulent ads in cooperation with social network operators, especially Facebook. Unfortunately, more are appearing in waves,” she said.
The problem, she said, also lies in the fact that website and social networkcannot recognizes not a added dading ad and block it before it is published.
Peterová said the thoroughly investigating scams is to investigate advertisements with “advantageous” offers thoroughly. And do not provide any payment details for your account or card, nor respond to requests to fill in details via communication apps such as Messenger or WhatsApp.