Facebook ChecksFact CheckMainstream

Scam! Beware of fake BBC, NTA Facebook pages soliciting funds for ailing man

Claim: A Facebook post, allegedly by BBC, solicits funds for Joshua Tosin Ajayi, who sustained injuries from a quarry accident.

Verdict: Misleading. Our findings show the post is a scam geared at defrauding Nigerians for a non-existent spinal and leg injury patient.

Full Text

GoFundMe and several social media approaches have been used to solicit funds for ailing patients unable to cater for their bills, and Nigerians have been known to sometimes come through with their contributions. 

Recently a Facebook post by an alleged BBC News Nigeria seeking support for an ailing man caught the attention of DUBAWA.  

The post was shared on February 4, 2023, with three picture frames of a certain Joshua Tosin Ajayi suffering from a spinal and leg injury from the collapse of a quarry he was working in the year 2021.  The tone of the post could manipulate people into contributing.

The purported BBC page currently has 73 followers, while the post has garnered over 9,200 reactions with over 5,000 comments and has been shared about 480 times on Facebook.

In the past, people have taken advantage of such posts to defraud the public, so DUBAWA decided to verify it and alert the public to the fraudulent scheme. 

Verification

We first observed this page is not verified, and the number of followers on this account is suspicious compared to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) status.

DUBAWA, hence, searched the official pages of the BBC and discovered that the authentic page of the BBC is BBC News Africa, not BBC News Nigeria. BBC News Africa page is followed by over 5 million Facebook users and is verified by Meta.

Screenshot of original BBC page.

DUBAWA sent a direct message to BBC News Africa’s official Facebook account to clarify the authenticity of the page that shared the information, but there was no immediate response.

We conducted a google reverse image search on the pictures of the supposed victim contained in the post, and it showed no history of such images. A search on TinEye also showed no matches.

However, a search on Veracity showed distortions to one of the images posted. The face and neck parts of the picture, given a close look, were photoshopped.

Screenshot of the photoshopped image revealed by Veracity. 

Further search showed a Facebook page Daily Nigeria News created on February 8, 2023, with no likes or followers and currently running adverts sharing the same post. The page had the mailing address [email protected].

Also, a google search of Daily News Nigeria showed the site was non-existent and did not have pre-existing content before the post was made to solicit funds from the general public for Joshua Tosin Ajayi.

One scam, different posts

With these perpetrators not giving up their antics towards defrauding unsuspecting Facebook users, another post was shared on a fake NTA News Nigeria page created on February 12, 2023, but this time around with a video of a woman identified as Madam Comfort who delivered twins soliciting for the sum of N750,000 to facilitate her discharge from hospital. Surprisingly,  the post contained the same account details as Joshua Tosin Ajayi, 0728203559, GT Bank

The video in the above post has been viewed by 25,000 Facebook users, shared over 80 times, and viewed by over 109,000 users.

A reverse image search on Google did not reveal significant information on the video. Hence, DUBAWA conducted a keyword search on Google pinpoint and YouTube, but there were no traces of the videos on those platforms.

A keyword search across social media platforms also revealed the same video of a certain Comfort Apeh being shared but this time with an anonymous account with just 23 followers and seven likes. 

DUBAWA’s investigation further showed another Facebook page named TVC News Nigerian, with just 153 followers, also put up the same post soliciting funds. The genuine Television Continental Facebook page (@tvcnewsng) is verified by Meta and has over 300,000 followers.

An analysis of this series of posts showed notable red flags on all pages that have shared this post. For one, the pages are without proper contact addresses and phone numbers. There is also minimal or no information on when a user clicks on these pages’ ‘About’ section. 

These pages all carry a different URL and name when compared. According to Meta policy, a page or account must have the name of the page or account in the URL when copied, but this is not the case for these pages.

These pages were all sponsored using unverified email addresses, all almost within the same time frame, with only one post on the profiles.

Conclusion

DUBAWA’s investigation reveals that the viral Facebook post showing a bedridden Joshua Tosin Ajayi with leg and spinal cord injury is misleading. The post, alongside a thirty seconds video showing a certain Madam Comfort appealing for financial support, is sponsored to defraud unsuspecting citizens. Thorough research showed these posts were planned to manipulate users into donating money.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Summitpost News to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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