We are feeling all kinds of weird at times, we fall for someone, for something, and we also trip at times. These things happen and more often than not we have ourselves to blame, but is that the case all the time? In this I refer to a BBC article 3 days ago called ‘Victim of ‘Elon Musk’ Bitcoin scam loses home deposit’, first of all, the scam used the name ‘Elon Musk’ the man himself has no dealings here. But it was part of the article that woke me up. It is “Ms Bushnell, an investor in cryptocurrency, spotted an item on a website that appeared to use BBC News branding, claiming Mr Musk, the billionaire boss of the Tesla car firm, would pay back double the sum of any Bitcoin deposit”, now in my case the part where I see ‘pay back double the sum’ would raise all the red flags, but it is “an item on a website”, not merely “appeared to use BBC News branding” that got my eyes.
There are two elements here, the first is that more and more advertisements (and scams) rely way too heavily on ‘deceptive conduct’ and the law has been dragging its heels here for 2-3 years on drowning that issue. Stronger laws against deceptive conduct needs to be there, not some political loon relying on some complaints department, but laws that give power to the law to chastise the advertisement agency that allowed for this with fines in excess of £1,000,000. I reckon that these people will clean up their acts when the fine equals a quarter of their revenue. Do you think it is overreaching? I myself thwarted 5 attempts to get scammed last week, and I believe it is getting worse, with Indian developers learning that for a mere investment of $250 they could reap $250,000 matters are getting worse and it needs to be halted, or at least diminished by a hell of a lot. In this I am willing to point the finger at Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and optionally Amazon as well. Some advertisements should not be allowed to continue.
Even when we see the Guardian giving us (some time ago) “investigation shows apparent ease of promoting fraudulent services online”, we see the lack of actions by all. They made these AI claims, so use your AI (actually AI does not yet exist), but there needs to be a much larger level of checks and even as the BBC watered down the stage towards “spotted an item on a website”, which due to a lack of presentable evidence makes sense, the setting is not all towards the victim. Yet in that light, If I had a real option to double your money, do you think I would go open, or go to my best friends? If I had an option that there was a 100% chance of a 100% gain, do you think I would give this to strangers, or to close friends? Consider that question when you go out and spend (read: donate) your money on something that is without evidence and without verification.
And there is a reason to blame big tech in this instance, it is seen in “The fake site is still currently online”, this implies that there was advertisement, there is a trail and I reckon there is a need for action and an option for action. You do not need a big degree in IT (I do have one) and we do know that there are ways to mask one’s digital identity, but wonder should those with a masked digital identity be allowed to advertise?
The article gives more questions than answers, but that is not a bad thing. Getting the questions out into the open optionally raises the bar or perception and if we get that bar high enough, my peers in the House of Lords will wake up and demand action, which gets us at least part of the way there.