Fake News Sites Targeting Students

Fake News Sites Flogging the Net

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've been exposed to dozens if not hundreds of fake news sites puporting to tell miraculous stories of instant business success using Google, Twitter, and other major online websites.

What's most stunning though is how popular these sites have become after the recent FTC Operation Short Change crackdown on business opportunity scams.

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, you may want to read about fake news site scams that are so pervasive right now.

For some reason the same names are use across hundreds of the websites - usually Kevin Hoeffer, Mike Steadman, Mary Steadman, Maria Steadman or other combinations of those.

In other words these fake news sitesĀ are easily footprinted (traceable via basicĀ search), so one would think they would become increasingly less popular over time.

But traffic monitoring sites like Alexa, Compete, and Quantcast are showing that these sites are actually becoming more popular over time.

Scams the fake news site promote

The biggest thing you need to watch out for are the scams that most of the fake news sites promote - always read the terms and conditions!

Often the order page of the product hides the details of the offer you are taking. You may see big arrows saying "free trial", or "just pay shipping", or "claim your kit now", but if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll often find that after a trial period ends you may get hit for multiple monthly fees.

Even worse, many companies make it extremely difficult to cancel the trial period or the monthly subscription and people end up having to file disputes or even cancel their credit cards.

Scammers now targeting students

Initially, the scammers running fake blogs weren't targeting specific groups. Then they started targeting religious groups, ethnic groups, and single moms.

More recently they also started targeting college students or even college dropouts, usually by changing just a few elements of the fake stories or news such as the headlines, photos, or videos used.

To get a sense of the entire process that people go through with these fake sites, you may want to review the video below.


Example of Fake Blog Promoted by Fake News

What to do about unauthorized withdrawals

If you do end up with charges you haven't authorized, there are a few steps you can take.

Typically you're required to try to resolve disputes with the company first or many of the credit and debit card companies won't work with you. Unfortunately it's also true that the companies running the questionable offers will either:

  • Make it difficult or impossible to contact them.
  • Promise to cancel your subscription or trial offer but then NOT follow through on their promise.
  • Get shut down by authorities and become unreachable.

Comments 1 comment

peacefulparadox 6 years ago

Sometimes you will see a fine print indicating that they are "advertorials". Advertorials are advertisment designed to look like legitimate news stories.

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