Please watch out for fake photos + videos, as well as donation scams capitalising on the devastating 2023 earthquake in Turkey!
2023 Turkey Earthquake : Fake Photos Alert!
Many people have been sharing photos of the massive earthquake that devastated both Turkey and Syria on 6 February 2023.
Unfortunately, quite a number of fake photos on WhatsApp and social media. They also appear in TikTok and YouTube videos. Here are a few notable examples.
Old Man With Bread
This photo of an old man with bread is being shared as a lesson on why we should be humble, respectful and kind.
It took just 17secs to change his status from the owner of 33 buildings to a person who’s surviving on bread and finding shelter where he can.
#TurkeyEarthquake teaches us an important lesson that life is unpredictable and nothing is permanent. Be humble, respectful and kind.
How being humble, respectful and kind could have helped this poor man was not explained. Neither did the people sharing this “lesson” explain why this photo has been circulating since 1999…
Yes, this photo was taken by photographer, Abdurrahman Antakyalı, almost 24 years ago, after the Düzce Earthquake that occurred on 12 November, 1999.
Needless to say, that old man was not a rich man who owned 33 buildings. It is incredible that people who create a fake story about this poor man. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that everyone should “verify before sharing“!
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Dog Looking For Survivor
Many people are sharing photos of dogs looking for survivors, like this example below, which was shared with messages like:
The little heroes will save many lives. Pray for Turkey.
This is incredible! A dog in Turkey was seen digging trying to rescue its owner. When the dog failed to move the heavy debris, he started barking to ask for help while holding one of his owner’s fingers!
Syrian🇸🇾 Turkish🇹🇷 Earthquakes!
Dogs are sensitive to their owner ❤️😊
The truth is – that is one of many stock images of “dogs looking for people in earthquake” available online.
That photo, and similar examples featuring the same dog as well as others dogs were posted by Czech photographer, Jaroslav Noska, on November 2020.
This suggests that the photos were staged for use as stock photos, and not actual photos of a real disaster area, or even real rescue dogs.
Tryon The Rescue Dog
Many people shared this photo of a dirty-looking dog, claiming that it just saved 10 lives in the 2023 earthquake in Turkey.
This dog worked all night last night and saved 10 lives
This dog hero who worked the whole night and saved 10 lives in Turkey.
The truth is – this is Tryon the rescue dog who helped to search for victims of a deadly mudslide near Oso, Washington, in the United States.
This photo was taken by Rick Wilking, a freelance photographer for Reuters, on March 30, 2014. He provided the following caption for this photo:
Tryon the rescue dog waits to go through the decontamination area at the mudslide after searching for victims in Oso, Washington March 30, 2014.
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2023 Turkey Earthquake : Donation Scam Alert!
People are not just posting those fake photos to “virtue signal” or increase their popularity, some are using them for donation scams!
Photos of Tryon the rescue dog above, for example, is being used to solicit donations for the people in Syria.
(Need Some reputable or NGO in Syria to pay or food. Shelter, blankets the Earthquake affects from the donations if gathered from this page.
As Sanction Syria from all over the world needs our help. Turkey has been helping by many.
He (Reputable) or NGO must be at the Earthquake affected areas of Syria and make video or come live while giving blankets, food, donation etc. Thanks )
– Those who want to Help/Donate. Message us. Thanks!
Even more egregious is this photo of a firefighter holding a child with a Turkish flag on his sleeve.
Friends, we have launched an aid campaign to reach people who have experienced an #earthquake disaster in Turkey.
#btc B : 1)n3C4GiFCzERTWd6nvCc4hTzvK8Viz88y
The trouble is – the photo isn’t real! It was created by Major General Panagiotis Kotridis of the Aegean fire brigade using the AI image generator called Midjourney.
While they are capable of creating really realistic images, such artificial intelligence image generators often leave tell-tale mistakes.
In the viral photo below, you can see that the firefighter has six fingers on his right hand with an abnormally long thumb. His left hand is also missing, with a third “hand?” right next to it.
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The BBC investigated further, and found that one of the crypto wallet addresses had been used in scam and spam tweets since 2018, while the other crypto wallet address had been posted on VK – the Russian social media website, together with pornographic content.
Ax Sharma, a cybersecurity expert at Sonatype, also pointed out that scammers are creating fake disaster relief accounts on social media to cheat people. One example is @TurkeyRelief on Twitter, which was created in January 2023 with just 31 followers and asked for donations using PayPal.
Scammers are also using TikTok Live to ask for donations, using captions like “Let’s help Turkey”, “Pray for Turkey” and “Donate for earthquake victims” over their videos. According to the BBC, TikTok takes up to 70% of the proceeds of these digital gifts.
So please WATCH OUT for such donation scams, which use real or fake photos / videos to trick people into sending them money.
If you want to help, please donate DIRECTLY to reputable organisations like the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Médecins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), OxFam, or the nearest Turkish embassy.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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