Strange scam claims New Zealand introducing a universal basic income

An outlandish fake news story claiming New Zealand has introduced a universal basic income funded through casinos is targeting Facebook users.

The story uses an image of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, featuring an unusual editorial choice - a sickly-looking hand photoshopped in.

"UniversaI Basic lncome Has Arrived... They've found an innovative way of making it possible for New Zealand", the post on Facebook claims.

It's followed with comments and shares from people saying, "Socialism begins" and "Is it a tax? It's a tax isn't it?"

The posts link to two different stories. One of them is much more obviously a scam, claiming a journalist "tested" the online casinos that would fund the universal basic income and won $4000.

One of the sites the posts link to.
One of the sites the posts link to. Photo credit: Screengrab/Newshub.

The other is a little more subtle but still unsual. It claims New Zealand is introducing a UBI funded through National's Family Incomes Package, which, if true, would be an extraordinary feat of accounting.

A screengrab of the scam site.
A screengrab of the scam site. Photo credit: Screengrab

The Government is trying to get the posts removed.

A spokesperson said they became aware of the "story" on July 13 "and immediately asked Facebook to remove it on the grounds that it was fake news."

The specific post was removed, only for more to crop up.

"Of course it is worrying that malicious entities can circulate fake news in this way. It's vital that companies like Facebook respond quickly to complaints such as ours," the Government spokesperson said.

Dr Catherine Strong, Senior Lecturer at Massey's School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, told Newshub the Government should fund one of New Zealand's news agencies to set up a check on fake news, similar to that run by the Washington Post.

"Government - in terms of democracy, truth, accuracy - should be putting funding into this," Dr Strong told Newshub.

Dr Strong said anyone interested in whether a website is fake should check the URL and the reporter byline. In this case, the URL "herald" indicates it's not a regular New Zealand news site.

"People always ask can you trust the news and I say you can trust the journalists," she said.

"The key to trusted media is trusted journalists."