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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2024 > Beware of deepfake celebrity-endorsement scams

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Beware of deepfake celebrity-endorsement scams

Recent news reports have unveiled a concerning trend involving famous personalities such as Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. They and others have been the subject of “deepfake” celebrity endorsement videos spread on social media that have ensnared unsuspecting consumers. Aniston was supposedly giving away expensive Apple MacBook laptops, and Swift and Gomez appeared to be endorsing Le Creuset cookware.

In reality, none of these celebrity endorsements was legitimate. All were faked, likely through artificial intelligence (AI) software.

VERIFY, a team of journalists and researchers that work with newsrooms to fact-check supposed news stories, indicates that “a deepfake video is made using artificial intelligence technologies, like programs that can be used to replace or synthesize faces, speech or expressions of emotions.”

In the examples VERIFY found of celebrities appearing to be giving away items, all were deepfakes created to scam people into providing personal or financial information.

VERIFY recommends the following “litmus test” to help consumers determine whether a celebrity social-media endorsement is real or part of an AI-generated scam:
  • Movement: How does the celebrity move in the video clip? Do you see any unusual facial expressions and/or body language?
  • Background: Is the video background distorted or out of place?
  • Source: Who published the video, and what method was used to share it? Does the video have any logos or watermarks?
  • Context: Is enough context to explain the actions happening in the clip? Does the celebrity and/or product background make sense with what is shown in the video?
In addition, VERIFY reported that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab has published very specific tips to help spot deepfake videos, and noted that consumers can do a reverse image search. VERIFY also recommends that consumers, before clicking on any suspicious links, closely verify where a link would take them by hovering over the link with their computer mouse. Also, look for the red flags published by the University of Denver.

As with any consumer deal, it’s important to remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If goods are being offered at extremely low prices – by a celebrity or anyone else – consumers should be leery.

Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.