A video shared on social media shows actor Russell Crowe singing the praises of a mobile app advertising property listings across Malta.
In the grainy video, a cutout of Crowe is seen superimposed over drone footage of Maltese townscapes and clips of the Swipelets app, which he is supposedly promoting.
Crowe describes the app as a “game-changer”, telling his followers that the app has made house-hunting “seamless and enjoyable”, before signing off as “Russell Crowe”.
One version of the video also inexplicably cuts briefly to footage from Crowe’s 2000 film Gladiator, showing Crowe introducing himself as his character Maximus Decimus Meridius, before coming to an abrupt end.
But the video is a fake, using an AI-generated voiceover to exploit Crowe’s long-standing association with Malta.
Crowe became a household name in Malta when filming Gladiator on the island and has frequently returned, even performing with his band last summer.
The footage of Crowe is likely taken from his most recent visit to the islands, as he appears to be wearing the same clothing as he did when fielding questions from journalists.
Video posted on Sunday
The video was first posted to Swipelets’ Facebook page on Sunday under the title “Russell Crowe Introduces Swipelets: Your Gateway to Dream Homes in Malta!” It was also posted on YouTube and Instagram.
The video soon caught the attention of Crowe himself who, in a tweet posted on Monday morning, warned his followers of the fake video, saying “I’ve never used this service & I do not endorse this BS”.
Swipelets advertises itself as a real estate agency specialising in Malta and the Balearic islands, however, a scan of its website quickly raises several red flags.
Although appearing legitimate at first glance, the site is replete with spelling mistakes, incorrect addresses and other mistakes typically associated with scam websites. The company’s VAT number, as listed on its website, also appears to be invalid.
Meanwhile, the company’s “licensed, experienced agents” do not exist, with reverse image searches showing that the photos used on the website have either frequently been used in other scams or else are simply lifted from stock image sites.
The website asks users to pay a fee, ranging from €11.99 for two weeks to an annual fee of €74.99 to either list their property for sale or view more listings.
Times of Malta has attempted to contact Swipelets through the telephone number listed on its website and social media channels but has not received a reply at the time of publication.
This is not the first time that this type of scam has been shared locally. Other prominent figures, including Elon Musk and several BBC newsreaders have been used to promote fraudulent products or schemes, using genuine footage and AI-generated audio to trick unsuspecting viewers into parting with their cash.
The video is fake using genuine footage of Crowe and AI-generated audio to trick people into believing that Crowe is endorsing the app.
Crowe himself has publicly said that the video is fake and that he is not affiliated with the app.
Browsing the Swipelets website reveals several clues that the operation may not be legitimate.
This is the latest in a long line of similar scams using fake videos of celebrities to promote products or services.
This claim is therefore false, as the evidence clearly refutes the claim.
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