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Company lies about family dying from COVID-19 in Facebook ad to sell face masks


LOS ANGELES (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) — A mother claims that a company falsely advertised that four members of her family died fighting COVID-19 just to sell face masks on Facebook.

It’s a story that tugs at your heart strings — An entire family killed by COVID-19, except for a young boy. The problem? None of it is true, and the mother says she has no idea how the company got her family’s photo to use it in the ad.

Eight years ago, the Ancich family took this professional photo for their holiday card. Last week, that same photo showed up in an ad claiming the entire family died except for the youngest son.

“Who would have the audacity to clearly not know a family and type that they had died,” Sara Ancich, the family’s mother, said.

The ad goes on to say that the family went to a church service in the middle of the pandemic and contracted COVID-19.

“It’s on the forefront of everybody’s mind in the news and everything, and how quickly it is taking lives. It could so clearly be true to people,” Ancich said.

Over the next couple of days, Sara Ancich was inundated with Facebook messages from concerned family and friends.

“And they were all reaching out saying, ‘is this true, you haven’t posted anything in a while, are you there, are you ok?’”

She said she tried reporting the video to Facebook, but it kept popping up in her feed.

“It was upsetting. It’s violating.”

Sara says she hasn’t posted the photo to social media in years. But if you do a reverse image search on Google, the photo is on several Pinterest boards for examples of family photos.

“I don’t know how I could have prevented this or I would have,” Ancich said.

In the video, the maker of the face mask, Filtermax, claims it’s the most efficient respirator on the market and is FDA approved. That proved to be untrue.

The ad also has a video of a teenager, identified as a member of the Ancich family, happily recounting his survival.

“I am curious about the boy in the video, too,” Ancich said. “Where’s he in this? Does he know that he’s out there?”

Facebook immediately pulled down the ad when KCAL reached out. Facebook also says that in order to crack down on businesses taking advantage of fear during this pandemic, it has banned all ads having to do with hand sanitizer, face masks, wipes, and COVID-19 tests.

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