In the summer of 2023, scammers created videos and websites in an effort to fool consumers into believing that ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton had appeared on "Good Morning America" ("GMA") to endorse keto or CBD gummies for weight loss.
However, Ashton has nothing to do with these products, as she previously posted on her own Instagram account. Her image and likeness were being both used and manipulated without her authorization.
By email, Ashton shared the following statement with us:
I have nothing to do with keto gummies or CBD gummies to treat or prevent weight loss, kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes. These products are a scam and the companies that promote them are fraudulent. They have used my name, face, voice, and likeness in conjunction with AI to sell and promote these products without my approval, and I am pursuing aggressive legal action against any/all such companies. This behavior is not only medically dangerous, it is unethical. If something is not featured on my verified instagram outlet or my website, I do not stand behind it. Period.
Here's an example of how the scam was spreading: On Sept. 15, scammers were apparently paying Meta, Facebook's parent company, either with their own funds or improperly accessed funds, to display video ads that featured visuals of Ashton from "GMA" mixed with both real and AI-generated audio of her speaking.
In the video ad (archived), the AI-generated audio misleadingly made it sound like Ashton had once said, "Keto BHB gummies were extremely effective for weight loss." Again, Ashton never endorsed any such products.
This video ad was being displayed under the name of the verified Facebook page for the old-school R&B group The O'Jays. The page had more than 1 million followers, as of this writing. It was improperly accessed by the scammers.
According to the Facebook page's information on its "page transparency" tab, the scammers who improperly accessed the page for The O'Jays resided in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and other countries.
To be clear, no celebrities or famous people have ever endorsed keto or CBD gummies for weight loss. Past scams prominently and misleadingly featured the cast of "Shark Tank," entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey, Grammy-winning recording artist and talk show host Kelly Clarkson and so many others, none of whom placed their stamp of approval on these products.