A FABRICATED INTERVIEW between comedian Tommy Tiernan and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is part of a scheme to trick people into joining cryptocurrency platforms using a network of fraudulent news sites.
The fake interview was shared on Facebook, using a series of scam sites that appear and disappear over time, presumably to stop them from being tracked or blocked.
One post, which was shared on Facebook, shows photos of Eamon Ryan with the description: “This information cannot be hidden. It might be an end to his career.”
A preview of the URL shows that it leads to a site called HongKongItali.Info. However, when The Journal first clicked on the link, it forwarded the user to another URL: Enchantatomiz.info, where the Eamon Ryan story appeared.
Enchantatomiz.info is no longer accessible, and a Who.is search of the registrar’s details shows a third party company used for registering domain names. Almost all the rest of the information entries read: “REDACTED FOR PRIVACY”.
The same registration information is available for HongKongItali.Info, however that website still works.
As before, it forwards the user on, but this time to extrieureson.info, a website that fraudulently claims to be Forbes — an American business magazine — including the same logo and story categories, such as the Forbes 400, Leadership Strategy, and Wealth Management.
However, clicking on these links brings a user to a new URL, which immediately forwards the user to yet another URL, which internet networks warn is suspected for phishing scams.
Cloudflare, the major internet infrastructure company that provided the warning, describes phishing attacks as attempts to “steal sensitive information, typically in the form of usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information or other important data in order to utilize or sell the stolen information”.
“By masquerading as a reputable source with an enticing request, an attacker lures in the victim in order to trick them, similarly to how a fisherman uses bait to catch a fish.”
Extrieureson.info, the fake Forbes website, appears to only have one story, which, like the Eamon Ryan story, tries to push a cryptocurrency platform using a faked interview, though this time with Elon Musk.
(Musk has given unfortunate cryptocurrency advice previously, advising people to buy coins themed around a meme dog, which subsequently crashed in value. A lawsuit accusing him of insider trading over the matter is still ongoing).
So, given this background, what did the fabricated Eamon Ryan interview say?
The Eamon Ryan interview
The article appeared on Enchantatomiz.info, which like the faked Forbes website, appears to be a clone of the RTÉ website, including the byline and photograph of a real RTÉ journalist.
The story, called “Eamon Ryan accidentally revealed this top secret about a loophole that will make any Irish Rich”, starts with a summary, which reads: “A well-known Irish green party politician, Eamon Ryan, regretted sharing the truth with his readers.
“However, it was already too late. He proved that any poor Irish person can become a millionaire in just 2 months.”
The article goes on to claim (in poor English) that at a recent appearance on the Tommy Tiernan Show (which did not happen), Ryan, in the style of a pushy salesman, insisted that a cryptocurrency platform would enrich watchers with little work or effort.
“Eamon Ryan is famous not only for being a Irish Green Party politician but also for being very wealthy,” the article says. “However, it is not what you think. It turned out that his main source of wealth had nothing to do with tv career.” [sic]
The article goes on to claim that the Bank of Ireland rang up the show to suppress the interview, “in a panic believing that if more people found out about this loophole, the Irish would become richer and no one would want to work”.
However, according to the article, the show was broadcast live.
“Sorry, we just got an urgent call from the Bank of Ireland. They demand to stop this broadcast right this second…” Tommy Tiernan was falsely reported to have said.
The Tommy Tiernan Show is not broadcast live. Which explains how viewers were spared this televisual moment, also described in the fake RTÉ article:
“Tommy Tiernan handed over his smartphone to Eamon Ryan, who signed up for the project using this link. Within 5 minutes, he returned the phone.”
At the time of writing, representatives for RTÉ and Eamon Ryan have not responded to requests for comment. As the interview never happened, this was not surprising.
With reporting from Stephen McDermott