Fact-check: Fake video shows Joseph Muscat promoting a crypto scam - Featured image

Fact-check Malta: Fake video shows Joseph Muscat promoting a crypto scam


A video doing the rounds on Facebook shows former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat promoting a crypto platform called Nord Invest.

“What is the best thing to invest in in 2024?”, Muscat asks rhetorically in the 50-second video. “Obviously it’s oil and cryptocurrency,” he says.

Muscat goes on to describe Nord Invest as “a reliable investment platform”, explaining that he started his investment with just €250 and went on to earn between 20% and 100% in annual returns thanks to the platform’s “100 professional brokers”.

But this video is simply the latest example of a widespread scam that has now hit Malta’s shores, mixing real footage of celebrities or politicians and AI-generated audio.

In reality, the footage used in this scam is taken from an interview that Muscat had carried out with Sky News UK over a decade ago, back in October 2013.

In the original interview, a fresh-faced Muscat can be seen speaking to Sky News correspondent Stuart Ramsay about migration across the Mediterranean, arguing for more European solidarity with border countries such as Malta.

The scam video does away with all the talk of migration, solidarity and geopolitics, replacing it instead with a crude voiceover about the crypto platform, using deepfake technology to synchronise much of the speech with Muscat’s lip movements, making it appear more legitimate.

The video is being shared by a Facebook page by the name of KETO, which describes itself as a beauty, cosmetic and personal care page. Despite having been opened in mid-December last year, the page only has a handful of followers.

Bizarrely, the page uses an image of veteran actor Mel Gibson as its Facebook cover image, misgendering the bearded Braveheart star in the process and telling readers that “famous singer Mel Gibson shared the secret to her transformation”.

KETO uses this shot of Mel Gibson as its Facebook cover image.

A deeper dive into the page’s activity reveals that it has shared several similarly doctored videos over the past weeks, some featuring other political figures, including one of outgoing Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Robert Abela goes for oil trading

The same page also shared a similarly altered video of current Prime Minister Robert Abela.

The video was also shared by other fraudulent Facebook pages, including one which, in an act of admirable modesty, calls itself Marketing Blackhole.

This page was created in early January but shows little sign of life, only posting a handful of cookie-cutter template images to its profiles over the past three months.

Unlike Muscat, who chose to invest in cryptocurrency, Abela’s video shows him opting for oil instead, promoting oil trading through the imaginatively-named platform Oil Profit in the fraudulent video.

“Residents of Malta, I would like to tell you about a new investment programme with the Oil Profit campaign”, he says in the doctored video.

As is the case with Muscat, the video of Abela uses real footage, this time taken from a video that Abela had recorded for NGO Global Citizen back in February 2021.

In the original video, Abela talks about Malta’s efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and minimise its impacts.

Once again, the original video’s audio track is replaced by an AI-generated fake script, designed to mimic Abela’s voice.

Searches into the Oil Profit platform that Abela is supposedly promoting shows how countless people around the world have been bitten by the scam after falling for similar fake videos, often using well-known figures such as Prince Harry.

Similar scams have been detected in the past, often using international political and public figures, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and actor Russell Crowe.

However, doctored videos of Maltese public figures will likely proliferate as AI tools become more widespread and easier to use.


Videos showing former PM Joseph Muscat and current PM Robert Abela promoting cryptocurrency and oil trading platforms are doctored.

In both cases, genuine video footage was edited and overlaid with an AI-generated audio track to make it appear as though they were promoting a fraudulent scheme.

These videos are the latest in a long line of similar scams using celebrities, politicians and public figures to promote fraudulent schemes and services.

This claim is therefore false, as the evidence clearly refutes the claim.

The Times of Malta fact-checking service forms part of the Mediterranean Digital Media Observatory (MedDMO) and the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), an independent observatory with hubs across all 27 EU member states that is funded by the EU’s Digital Europe programme. Fact-checks are based on our code of principles

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Fact Check, Politics, Society, Technology

Author(s): Neville Borg

Originally published here.