X Flooded With Bizarre Ads Smearing TV Chef to Promote Crypto Platform

Bell Media told Motherboard it is actively reporting X ads smearing Canadian chef Mary Berg in a bizarre campaign promoting a crypto platform.
Jeremy Chan / Stringer.

This is Mary Berg, and if you’ve been on X in the past week, you’ve probably seen her. That’s because her face has been photoshopped into increasingly bizarre advertisements on the Elon Musk-owned social media site that refer to a “global scandal” and link back to websites that mimic real news outlets and contain a fake interview with Berg. 

The X ads all allude to Berg having said something inappropriate, while some appear to show her arrest. There’s a lot of these ads on X right now, with numerous users posting about encountering them on the site, and they appear to be part of a campaign to promote a cryptocurrency product that makes use of the social media platform’s ad network to smear Berg along the way. It’s a bizarre new chapter in the downfall of the quality of ads on X since Musk took over and fired the majority of its staff, while simultaneously making erratic public statements that have pushed away mainstream advertisers


First, who is Mary Berg? Berg is a CTV personality, the winner of the third season of Masterchef Canada, and the host of several television shows. She’s a food celebrity in the Canadian media ecosystem and has hosted award shows, cooked on a screen, and generally been a pleasant person on TV for years.

In the X advertisements, Berg is depicted in courtrooms, sometimes surrounded by police, and sporting a shocked face. “Global Scandal,” one ad says. “Mary Berg career is over after her on-air remarks!” Clicking any of the links takes you to a web page made up to look like an article on CTV’s website, including the outlet’s logo and featuring the byline of Tom Yun, a real CTV reporter. (Notably, only people located in Canada who clicked the link got this page; visiting from the U.S. shows a different page entirely.) 

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Imaga via X.

The article features a fake interview between Berg and Citytv Breakfast Television host Sid Seixeiro. The interview is very long, and features the fake Seixeiro taking multiple swipes at Berg’s finances, saying at one point, "You practically don't work—I will never believe that you live on one salary!” The article states that Seixeiro “[called] her a liar right in front of thousands of live viewers.” Eventually, the fake interview pivots to promoting a cryptocurrency platform and encourages readers to deposit the minimum of $335.


Needless to say, Berg isn’t in trouble over anything she’s said. 

“We are aware of the ongoing issue of fake advertisements targeting Mary Berg,” Bell Media, the parent company of CTV, told Motherboard in an email. “Bell Media actively reports the fraudulent content to ensure swift removal. We encourage social media users to remain vigilant against these deceptive ads and report suspicious content to the platform they're using.”

In the course of this reporting, Motherboard confirmed that X had at least suspended two accounts related to the Mary Berg campaign. Dozens more are still active as of this writing. Berg did not respond to a request for comment sent to a representative. 

The accounts publishing the ad have low follower counts, blue checks indicating they’ve paid to subscribe to X, and residual crypto aesthetics. Several of the accounts checked by Motherboard were created on or around 2016 and had previously tweeted about crypto campaigns.

We’ve seen bot networks like this on X before. Last year, a wash of ChatGPT-powered bot networks flooded X and were caught when they repeated famous LLM error messages. Elon Musk famously promised to get rid of bots on the social media network before purchasing it for $44 billion. According to many experts, however, the problem has only gotten worse.

X did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment