Russian propaganda peddlers bamboozled Hollywood stars into creating content they used to harm the reputation of Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky.
Microsoft Threat Analysis Center released a report detailing how celebrities out of work from the actor’s strike were paid to make videos on Cameo that were later manipulated.
Cameo is an app that allows the general public to purchase customized greetings from famous actors, sports stars, and even politicians.
That’s how Russian-aligned propagandists were able to get direct access to celebrities like “Lord of the Rings” star Elijah Wood and former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.
Elijah Wood has a message for Zelensky: go to rehab for your drug addiction. Instagram deleted the video. pic.twitter.com/5fpxb6h1Sv
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 20, 2023
The celebrities were tasked with recording video messages that urged a person named “Vladimir” to get help for a substance abuse problem.
The videos were then digitally altered to make it appear as if the famous people were speaking about Zelensky having a drug problem.
They also made it look like the videos were coming directly from trusted news sources by adding the logos of media outlets like TMZ.
The Microsoft report confirms that these videos circulated through pro-Russian social media communities.
The messaging was further “amplified by Russian state-affiliated and state-run media outlets.”
According to Newsweek other allegations made against Zelensky include that he lives in a multi-million dollar mansion and destroyed documents related to Hunter Biden’s Burisma dealings.
The outlet debunked the claim that Wood posted the message on his personal Instagram page through a series of fact checks.
They found that Wood has a private Instagram account that is not named “elijah.wood.klgring,” which the post came from.
Newsweek also noted that a TMZ logo was posted on the video, but the entertainment news outlet did not have a corresponding article on their website.
In addition to Wood and Tyson, other celebrities were caught up in the propaganda scheme, which dates back to July.
Priscilla Presley along with recognizable television actors including “Breaking Bad’s” Dean Norris, “Scrubs” star John McGinley, and Kate Flannery from “The Office,” were all targeted.
Regarding the report, Cameo refused to comment about being breached by Russian agents, but did state that the content would “violate Cameo’s Community Guidelines, and in cases where such violations are substantiated Cameo will typically take steps to remove the problematic content and suspend the purchaser’s account to help prevent further issues.”
Wood’s representatives have not commented on the reports, but his Cameo account is currently closed to new requests.
One person who is thrilled to be active on Cameo is expelled freshman congressman George Santos.
After becoming the first lawmaker to be booted from Congress in 20 years, Santos has turned his scandal into a social media racket.
Santos is currently charging $300 per video on the platform, and is set to make a staggering amount of money due to his popularity.
Cameo’s CEO said that the one-and-done lawmaker is set to be an “absolute whale” on the platform, and should easily make the kind of cash that “dwarfs” his $174,000 a year congressional salary.
I thought my ethically-challenged colleague @BobMenendezNJ could use some encouragement given his substantial legal problems.
So, I approached a seasoned expert on the matter to give ‘Bobby from Jersey’ some advice. pic.twitter.com/y8iX55EyNi
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) December 4, 2023
According to MSNBC, Sen. John Fetterman, (D-PA) paid more than Santos’ $300 asking rate to get him to send a video to fellow scandal-plagued Senator Bob Mendez (D-NJ).
“I thought my ethically-challenged colleague [Mendez] could use some encouragement given his substantial legal problems,” Fetterman posted on X, formerly Twitter earlier this week.
“So, I approached a seasoned expert on the matter to give ‘Bobby from Jersey’ some advice.”
“Hey Bobby,” Santos began. “Look, I don’t think I need to tell you, but these people that want to make you get in trouble and want to kick you out.”
“You make them put up or shut up,” he advised.
“You stand your ground sir, and don’t get bogged down by all the haters out there.”
Santos signed off by telling Mendez to “stay strong,” but later claimed that he was unaware the video was intended for the Senator at the time of recording.