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How Image Verification helped me to flag a Whatsapp group


Whatsapp is fast becoming a haven for disinformation, hoaxes and myths but that's a topic for another day. My particular concern today is how image verification helped me flag a group as potentially fraudulent. It all began when the admin of a group called Linkwell posted about their wealth creation and management package. They then dropped a link to their Whatsapp group, and being that my curiosity was piqued, I decided to investigate.

Not much had been going on in the group except the usual vague posts by the admins about their various investment packages and how those interested should send them a DM. Till some days ago, one of the admins posted about linkwell presentations that held the previous day, you can see the image below for context.



I can't explain why, but something didn't just sit right with me concerning the image. So, I decided to apply two basic principles of image verification which are:
1. Establish the author/originator of the image.
2. Confirm the image is what it is labeled/suggested to be showing.

To confirm the first point, the usual process is to ask the person that shared or uploaded the image if he/she was the one who captured the image. But seeing that there could be the possibility that the admin could lie about the true source of the image, I decided to do a reverse image search to see if there were any other matches on the web.
Using Google reverse image search, I got nothing. This meant that the image was unique, and not copied from anywhere on the web.



So I moved on to the next step, which was to confirm if the image was what it was labeled to be showing. Taking a cue from what the admin posted, I tried to look carefully at the image to find any logo or lettering of linkwell in the image. I found none, rather what I found was a logo on the back of a man's polo shirt that also seemed similar to what was on a banner in front at the right corner.




The lettering that I was able to read off the man's polo shirt was "BITCLU." I then did a Google image search using those letters and the * wildcard, and got an image of a logo similar to what was behind the man's polo and the banner in front.



Remembering the admin said the presentation was in Johannesburg, I then ran another image search using the query "bitclub network south africa seminar"



From the results, I noticed that the fourth image to the right looked similar to what the admin posted in the group. Looking at the two images below, you can clearly see they were taken at the same venue. 

Image from Linkwell Admin

Image from Blog Post.


Also, notice the picture from the image search is from a blog post, and the author writes:
In the three years that Bitclub has been in South Africa, millionaires have been made, and lives have been changed.
This is not just talk, but fact – and anyone attending one of the presentations at the new offices will be able to meet some of these people.

This means that this presentation was at one of their new offices. Now compare this with the statement of the linkwell admin that the presentation was at their office. Looking at the banner in front and the logo on the polo, it is more reasonable to conclude that this was a bitclub network event. Most likely someone from linkwell was present and decided to take a picture with the aim of using it to deceive people in their group.
Why would they lie? Your guess is as good as mine, but this is a red flag to be weary of buying whatever they are selling.


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