Television presenter Antonella Vassallo has filed a police report about a series of Facebook adverts that faked an interview with Corinthia Group chief Alfred Pisani and American real estate magnate Grant Cardone.

“Throughout the entire schedule from October to June, I never interviewed Mr Pisani or Mr Cardone,” said Ms Vassallo, who presented the breakfast show TVAM Weekend until last June.

I never interviewed Mr Pisani or Mr Cardone

“This is fake news and the moment I was alerted about it, I immediately contacted the cybercrime unit and filed a report,” she told Times of Malta.

The adverts were part of a Ponzi scheme meant to con people into investing hundreds of euros into a fictitious bitcoin vehicle.

One of the trick Facebook ads.One of the trick Facebook ads.

The scam surfaced a few days ago and bears a close resemblance to another one launched last January which featured Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, meant to make people believe he was endorsing the scheme.

This time, Mr Pisani features in a fictitious interview by Ms Vassallo. Though no official statement was released by the Corinthia Group, a spokesman told Times of Malta they had reported the case to the relevant authorities. 

By the time of writing, the fake adverts were still popping up on Facebook. However, they are no longer being promoted by Basic Daily but by a different Facebook page called Webcoffeenews. Both pages were created only a few days ago.

Times of Malta contacted Facebook to report the scam and ask what course of action would be taken but no reply was received by the time of writing.

A spokesman for the Malta Financial Services Authority has confirmed this was a Ponzi scheme.

Sources in the industry noted that compared to previous attempts, the scam was rather “refined”. No longer is there an amateurish translation from English to Maltese but the writing is made to look professional.

The stories also include comments from fake Facebook profiles, the majority of whom claim to be endorsing the scheme.

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