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Scams, fraud and disinformation in unregulated digital advertising

Revenue from advertising is the main source of financing for big techs. Without the due transparency, it is not possible to know what percentage of these values come from criminal, false and irregular advertisements.

Reports and excerpts from television news taken out of context or completely edited are used in fraudulent advertisements to fake positive news coverage of the frauds and afford credibility to the scams. In our research, we found advertisements that implicate TV Globo, Record TV and SBT, as well as G1 and the newspaper O Globo, in financial fraud.

Although many scammers invest in their own websites, often mimicking those of already established brands, most of the advertisements found redirected users to WhatsApp conversations. The application is used to generate leads (and sell data) but is also the ideal means for scams.

In addition to Meta applications, such as WhatsApp, several advertisements redirect users to the Google Play Store, Google's application store, where fraudulent digital gambling games and dubious investment applications are available.These apps remain active and available for download in the store despite protests from affected users in the platform's comments.

Fraudulent advertisements made in the name of banks, such as Nubank, Banco do Brasil and Santander, or their supposed representatives, promise “easy and bureaucracy-free” solutions for consumers seeking financing and loans. With

unrealistic promises and “time-sensitive" guarantees, all of these scams are negotiated through unofficial channels outside the control of financial institutions.

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