76 million attempts to scam you on X, using celebrities

  • has analyzed 165 promoted posts on X that use the image of Spanish celebrities like Lola Índigo or Martiño Rivas without their consent
  • Each fraudulent ad reached 368,000 users on average and were seen at least 76 million times overall
  • These promoted posts go against Spanish Law and X could be breaching its obligations under the Digital Services Act (DSA)
  • Read the full report here


In recent months, X (formerly Twitter) has been flooded with ads using the image of public figures and media outlets. These redirect to web pages that offer false investments in cryptocurrencies where they steal personal data from users or encourage them to make a “first investment” that is never recovered. has collected examples of this type of promoted post, registering a total of 165 in less than three months. After analyzing them, we have been able to obtain the following results:

  • Accounts that published the promoted tweets were a few months old and all had the blue tick of the X Premium payment service, formerly Twitter Blue. These accounts managed to increase the visibility of the publications by investing in advertising through X Ads.

  • Ads reached 368,000 users on average and were viewed a minimum of 76 million times overall. The most viewed post reached almost four million impressions.

  • Most ads were programmed to be shown to users over 25 years of age located in Spain.

  • 96 of the publications (for which data is available) circulated for a total of 354 days combined.

  • The image of singer Lola Índigo was the most repeated in the ads while the most spoofed media outlet was El País. Four out of every five false interviews analyzed directed to 'Quantum AI' website, an entity that already appears in the warning register of the Spanish Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores and has been designated as "financial fraud".

  • The X ads repository shows that the online platform stopped the promotion of 35.15% of the ads we analyzed. For the rest, there isn’t information of any kind.

  • X acts inconsistently as it alleges different reasons for moderation on posts that follow exactly the same pattern. 32.76% of the publications for which data is available contained illegal content, according to X. Most of the remaining ads were classified by the company as violations of its internal policies.

These ads go against X's policies and may be considered illegal content

The scam consists of three steps: promoted posts with images of well-known celebrities that catch the users’ attention, websites that impersonate media outlets with false interviews that provide credibility, and entities that offer false investments to obtain users' personal data or money.

By consulting experts, we have been able to examine the different regulations that could qualify these publications as illegal content.

Firstly, these ads could be violating Spanish regulations because:

Additionally, advertisers must comply with X's policies to use their promotion service. On numerous occasions, these publications appear to violate the platform's internal policies. For example, policies prohibit “unacceptable” business practices, misleading and deceptive advertising, or posts that seek to obtain unfair advantage.

X’s obligations and recommendations

Not only are regulations applicable to those who publish fraudulent ads, but also to X as the online platform hosting them. The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) establishes that the social network has the responsibility and duty to remove the illicit content it hosts if it becomes aware of it.

Exploitation of X's advertising system to promote illegal content may constitute a systemic risk under the DSA. If so, this same regulation obliges the platform to take specific measures to end this problem. As of today, X is not responding effectively, since this type of post continues to be spread widely through X Ads in Spain and other countries. Meanwhile, X obtains economic benefit through the payment of X Premium and the investment in the promotion of fraudulent tweets.

Among the recommendations included in the report, it is mentioned that X should increase its investment in content moderation teams with adequate knowledge of languages ​​and local contexts and improve detection processes to prevent ads against its policies from being approved and starting to circulate.

Additionally, the platform’s ad repository should expand the information it offers. It currently has “deficiencies”, as pointed out by the European Commission with the opening of a formal procedure against X under the DSA.

Authorities should also ensure that current laws are complied with, through the collaboration of experts and civil society organizations that can carry out independent investigations.

You can read the full report through this link.

Maldito Timo cuenta con la colaboración de

logo eset