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Images altered to boost claimed crypto trader

Images altered to boost claimed crypto trader


A self-described cryptocurrency trader has posted images of happy clients receiving massive returns in the form of huge novelty cheques.

However, the pictured clients are not cryptocurrency investors. They are winners of a US sweepstakes competition from several years ago.

The doctored images appear on the Facebook page of Alexis Messi (archived here), who claims to be a highly successful crypto trader.

Messi is one of more than 100 supposed financial traders using pretence and altered images to target Facebook users in the Pacific Islands.

A screenshot of the Facebook account's main page
 The woman pictured on the account is not Alexis Messi. 

AAP FactCheck has analysed dozens of these accounts as part of a special investigation. 

In particular, Messi targets people in the Solomon Islands with the promise of huge returns on their investment.

The profile and cover image on the Facebook account do not show Messi or anyone associated with crypto trading.

Instead, they have been taken from the social media accounts of Belarus-based PR consultant Svetlana Klyuchenya.

There is no suggestion Klyuchenya has any connection to the Messi account.

Messi also posts screenshots of bank notifications as proof of the big returns she is securing for investors. 

In particular, she posts notifications relating to Bank of South Pacific (BSP), as seen here.

BSP confirmed to AAP FactCheck the images were fake.

Messi also posts images of her supposed happy clients, including this post featuring two women holding giant checks allegedly showing their earnings from crypto trading.

“Nice one!!! Huge congrats to Belinda Milan and Paula Sullivan. Who claimed this great win in forex trading,” Messi’s post reads.

“Thank you very much for sending me this as a prove to or (sic) my investor over the world.”

A screenshot of the original photo.
 An undoctored photo shows the true source of Paula Sullivan’s big win. 

However, these women are not crypto investors.

The images can be traced to US company Publishers Clearing House (PCH), which runs popular direct mail sweepstakes only open to people in the US.

The women were winners of PCH sweepstakes in 2018 and 2019, as seen in the firm’s YouTube videos here and here.

The original images have been doctored to edit out any mention of PCH, replaced with old Bitcoin imagery and text reading “Binary Trading” and “247fasterpay“.

However, a van with a Publishers Clearing House decal on the side can be seen in the background of one image.

PCH’s name and logo are also frequently used by scammers targeting vulnerable people, prompting public warnings from US government agencies.

The Verdict

The claim a crypto trader has posted photos of clients receiving investment returns in the form of huge cheques is false.

The supposed clients are winners of a US sweepstakes competition which has nothing to do with crypto trading. The cheques in the images have been heavily altered.

The account has also posted images of fake bank transaction notifications.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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