Millions lost by 150 investors who clicked on a deep fake “Elon Musk” ad…

One hundred and fifty (150) victims have come forward to report losses of millions of rands – after clicking on a deep-fake ad featuring Elon Musk. This after Advocate Petra van Niekerk blew the whistle in a recent interview with BizNews. She is now representing many of the victims – after she herself lost her life savings.  In this second interview, she reveals that one unlucky investor had lost R5,5-million. She relates the devastating impact on the victims, one of whom tried to kill herself after losing all her money. She also gives an update on the legal fight back, and has wise words of comfort for those who feel ashamed and embarrassed.

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:37 – How many victims have come forward?
  • 00:46 – Amount lost by the victims
  • 00:58 – Saddest stories from the victims
  • 01:49 – Have the victims laid charges?
  • 02:25 – The registered company allegedly behind the deepfake ads
  • 04:17 – The next steps
  • 05:29 – Other advice
  • 09:32 – Conclusion

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Highlights from interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

One hundred and fifty (150) victims have come forward to report losses of millions of rands – after clicking on a deep-fake ad featuring Elon Musk.

This after Advocate Petra van Niekerk blew the whistle in a recent interview with BizNews.

She is now representing many of the victims – after she herself lost her life savings. 

In this second interview, she reveals that one unlucky investor lost R5,5-million.

Read more: FSCA-registered business scams via deep-fake ‘Elon Musk’, Rupert, Oppenheimer advert

Speaking about the devastating impact on the victims, Advocate van Niekerk says: “I’ve heard several very, very sad stories. The worst being that of pensioners who lost a part or all of their pensions. I also heard stories of people that had taken out loans on their houses or on their properties. Another person had actually sold a property and used the funds that they made from that sale, put it into this company thinking it was an investment and lost all of it. Another person, also…an old lady…she lost all her money and she attempted to commit suicide.”

Meanwhile, many of the victims have now made affidavits and laid criminal charges. “A lot of people are still in shock and are very traumatised by what happened to them. But more and more people are taking steps and making affidavits and opening criminal charges against this company.”

As for the vehement and repeated denials of any links to the false advertisement from the company the deep fake ad led investors to, she says: “I personally think that whatever this company says is absolute nonsense. From the start, people have been deceived. These are fraudsters. And I used to work in the criminal court for a number of months. And the criminals that I found were the worst and were the hardest to prosecute were fraudsters because they would deny everything….And usually how those fraudsters would get prosecuted was by the overwhelming evidence against them. And I see a similar pattern here, where there is overwhelming evidence against this company and they just barely deny any involvement in the false advertisements.

“And then on top of that… a financial forensic investigator, Mr. Bart Henderson, indicated that this company…can’t have their cake and eat it too. They were ultimately, the beneficiaries of a crime or they benefited from a crime and they benefited from the proceeds of a crime and this company ought to return all the money that they received due to people being lured to their platform as a result of false advertisements.”

Advocate Van Niekerk is urging more victims to come forward – and to inform others. “Some people that…fell victim to this particular scam have not yet informed other people. Everyone has a duty to warn other people, inform people to be wary that…false advertisements are being used, that AI is being used in false advertisements to promote false investment opportunities…”

Read more: 🔒 Deepfake tech means Zoom worries have gone from “are you on mute” to “are you real” – Parmy Olson

And she has these words of comfort for those who have already fallen victim: “I know how you feel and I also went through it and I also survived it and am surviving it and I’m still processing the trauma that happened to me, but there is hope…

“It is horrible, it is really horrible and it’s extremely traumatic and I don’t want anybody to go through the trauma that I went through or the experience that I went through. So please have the courage…to talk to somebody. 

“People have phoned me and they’ve told me that they feel alone, that they feel like they have nobody to talk to. There are people listening to this that do not even know that their parents have lost a part or all of their pension money. There are people that don’t know that your husband or your wife has lost money, or your children, or your neighbours, or your colleagues. This is a reality. This is happening in our country. And those people need your support. They don’t need your judgment. And I’d also like to urge people to not look down on anyone who has been the victim of fraud, because really it can happen to anyone.

“There’s nothing to feel ashamed about. There’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. But do not keep quiet. Do not keep silent because as I said, we all have a duty to inform others, to warn others so that this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”

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