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Health Minister Shane Reti targeted by fake nail fungus scam, demands Facebook removes ads

Natasha Hill

Health Minister Shane Reti is distancing himself from a fake nail fungal remedy that claims he is endorsing a formula and insisting that social media giant Facebook takes the content down.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Scammers have posted an image of the National politician and doctor alongside a caption attributing to him: “Shane Reti: nail fungus infects the blood and causes necrosis. There is a solution, but it’s not for everyone.”

Reti said the advertisements are fake and his office has contacted Facebook, which is looking into the matter.

“It is concerning that social media is being used to misrepresent the government’s position on health.”

The post was found through sponsored Facebook posts with links to a website mimicking the Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa — New Zealand Government website.

The latest scam comes on the back of chef and entrepreneur Simon Gault’s weight loss supplement scam in which multiple posts circulated on social media using his image.

The scam included fake screenshots of articles claiming to be written by the Herald.

Gault told the Herald he was concerned people would be into buying the weight loss supplements after his workers alerted him to the post.

“There appears to be multiple ones out there with me promoting gummies and health courses, and talking all about my sex life and all sorts of things.

“It pisses me off, I’ve just been through it so many times with copycat things. There was a girl from the Philippines who was almost about to put a whole bunch of money in and luckily she contacted me.”

Gault was unable to lodge a complaint because he was blocked by the scammers.

Spotting scams and staying safe

1. Never click on links contained in text messages. Even if you think a text is legitimate, go to the organisation’s website using an address you have bookmarked and log on from there.

2. Legitimate providers won’t ask you to install something to check your account or receive a delivery.

3. Check the sender’s number. If it’s from a legitimate company (like a bank or a courier) it will be sent via computer and will probably use a four-digit number rather than an individual’s phone to send the messages.

Your bank isn’t going to have someone sitting there with a phone sending out these messages manually, so if you get one from an individual number (e.g. 021 123 456) it’s probably fake.

4. If you haven’t clicked on the link you don’t have to worry. A text message can’t infect your phone just by you opening it.

5. If the text includes a phone number to contact the provider, don’t use it. Go to the provider’s website, look up their number and call them that way. Scammers will try to get you to talk to them so they can convince you to share information. Don’t trust those numbers.

6. Report the scam text to the Department of Internal Affairs by forwarding it to 7726. The more reports they get, the better they’re able to assess the potential harm and act accordingly.

7. Delete the text. Better not to have it around in case you accidentally click on it.

Hero Image: Reti was unimpressed and concerned that social media can misrepresent the Government's position on health.

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