Entertainment

Scammers posing as well-known conservatives deceiving fake COVID cures

Telegram channels posing as popular right-wing figures are selling a supplement that is supposed to prevent COVID-19. Some channels even claim that the supplement, Meticore, “will destroy any infection.”

“Only 6 bottles for better health protection from the famous COVID-19!” read one.

The channels that made statements about Meticore were Melania Trump, Julian Assange, Mel Gibson, Steve Bannon, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Michael Jackson, and others. Some channels target specific interests, including [Ghislaine] Maxwell Test Tracker, Drain the swamp, and Storm is here—There is an explicit reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory. Most channels have tens of thousands of subscribers or more.

None of the channels are verified and appear to be fraudulent. Many, though not all, have been labeled as “scam” or “spoof” by Telegram. One that is not labeled fraudulent or fake, by the actor Mel Gibson, has nearly 130,000 subscribers. A representative for the former Gibson confirmed to the Daily Dot that the actor is not active on Telegram.

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Telegram

Meticore is primarily marketed as a weight loss supplement. The website that Daily Dot has found all Telegram channels linking to claims that low body temperature is the root cause of low metabolism and hence, weight gain. It uses a “proprietary blend” of botanicals and nutrients to “target a low core body temperature” to “absorb and supercharge metabolism,” says Meticore.

The website makes no mention of COVID or claims that Meticore cures infections or other illnesses. Much of the online content about Meticore exclusively claims that it stimulates weight loss.

Protection from COVID seems to be a new turning point.

Much of what is written about Meticore online is positive — with one notable exception. Reviews about it Better Sales Department Profile is overwhelmingly negative. Many claimed it was a “scam” and that the company didn’t live up to its promises. They also said they charged them more than expected and refused to honor their money-back guarantee.

One person wrote: “I gained 10 lbs in the almost three months I took this product. “I don’t blame them. I blame myself for the scam.”

Meticore’s customer review rating on the Better Business Bureau is 1.04 out of five stars.

In the past, Telegram channels have touted Meticore’s alleged weight loss abilities. Only recently have they started pushing claims that it prevents COVID and cures infections. Similar channels have marketing Past Trump-branded coins.

It is unclear to what extent Meticore is involved with Telegram channels, if any. Meticore did not respond to an emailed inquiry Monday afternoon.

It is also unclear if any right-wing figures have approved the use of their similar names and images to sell Meticore. Representatives for former President Trump, Melania Trump and Mike Pompeo, whose before and after photos were used to promote Meticore’s alleged interests, did not respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon. None of the aforementioned individuals is known to have an official account on Telegram.

It is also unclear if this is a network controlled by an individual, or if each channel is controlled by a separate individual or organization or a combination. But it looks like some or all of the Telegram channels are working together, especially when posts from different channels use identical images and/or language.

“Tucker Carlson has announced the great news that METICORE is the cure for all ‘modern’ diseases and it is a great protection against Covid-19,” speak one on a channel attributed to Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.

Same post made by channel Steve Bannon Official. Both posts were made within hours on Monday.

Multiple Telegram posts about Meticore include edited images from Tucker Carlson’s performance, press conference, and photos allegedly taken before and after using Meticore. Some use actual footage, such as one since Trump addressed the nation after recovering from COVID, but misstructured the footage to refer to Meticore.

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Telegram

Some spellings in Telegram posts suggest that the writer may be less familiar with English, or that the subtitles were originally written in another language and automatically translated. “Covid-19 strikes people with greater weight,” read Captions appear on some posts.

Some posts incorporate language reminiscent of QAnon conspiracy theories.

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Swamp discharge / Telegraph

Many use references likely to appeal to Trump supporters. Some suggested that President Joe Biden would ban Meticore. Many say that 2 million units were sold in just a few days. Many posts use age-old tactics to claim that supplies are running low.

The URLs contained therein are Bitly addresses that include phrases like “Trump cures” and “Melania lose weight.”

The Daily Dot also contacted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday but received no response.

It is unknown how much revenue Telegram accounts have accumulated since they first started promoting Meticore in mid-December.


This week’s top tech story

*First published: December 21, 2021, 8:05 a.m. CST

Claire Goforth

Claire Goforth is a Daily Dot staff writer covering all things politics and technology, with a focus on the far right and conspiracy theories.

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a technology and security reporter based in Seattle covering social media, data breaches, hackers, etc.

https://www.dailydot.com/debug/telegram-scam-meticore-covid-cure/ Scammers posing as well-known conservatives deceiving fake COVID cures

Mike Sullivan

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