Studio Ghibli co-founder and anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has inadvertently become the face of a Japanese cryptocurrency phishing scam. This incident was brought to light by a Japanese news portal, Bengo4, on Dec 29, 2023.
According to Bengo4, fake news sites, mimicking reputable outlets like the Yomiuri Shimbun, are spreading false information alleging that Miyazaki is endorsing cryptocurrency investments, with some articles even going to the length of suggesting that the Bank of Japan has intervened in response to the alleged scandal.
These fake news sites have been misusing the names, photos, and logos of prominent individuals or media outlets.
These articles are then circulated on popular news aggregator ‘goo’, making it seem as if Miyazaki discussed cryptocurrency investment, repeatedly mentioning the name of a specific site while leading readers to it.
A snippet of an article circulating online featured a fabricated quote attributed to Miyazaki, urging individuals to invest a specific amount and promoting a platform named TradeGPT 3.6 Force.
“Imagine how much balance you will have in one month. If you invest at least ¥39,750, you will have 600,000, or even 700,000 after 4 weeks. However, TradeGPT 3.6 Force All you have to do is register on the platform, charge your balance and press a button.“
The Yomiuri Shimbun responded promptly, asserting that the fake site has no connection to their company. The group’s Public Relations Department has reported copyright infringement to the social media operating company and demanded the removal of these fraudulent articles. A note has been posted on their homepage warning people not to access such deceptive sites.
“The fake site has absolutely no relation to our company whatsoever. We have reported to the social media operating company that our copyright is being infringed and have demanded deletion,” they said in a statement. “We are aware that fake sites using the YOL logo and images of prominent individuals have been found on social media. To prevent fraud and the leakage of personal information, we have posted an article on YOL’s homepage cautioning about fake sites. We urge people not to click on ads on fake sites or enter personal information.“
This incident is part of a larger trend where fake news sites, impersonating reputable sources, are becoming gateways to investment fraud.
In response to the surge in reports related to cryptocurrency investment scams, law enforcement agencies, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, are urging individuals to consult designated helplines before engaging in any financial transactions with unfamiliar or suspicious platforms.