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Actors From 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Breaking Bad' and More Were Tricked Into Creating Anti-Ukraine Messages on Cameo The Microsoft Threat Analysis Center reports that pro-Russian propagandists used the popular platform Cameo to make celebrity videos that appear to be attacking Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

By Dan Bova Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • The actors, including Elijah Wood and Kate Flannery from 'The Office,' thought they were sending encouraging messages to a person struggling with substance abuse.
  • This isn't the first time the video platform has been in the news in recent weeks.

Cameo is a great way to send a loved one a quirky present — and also appears to be an effective tool for creating war propaganda.

The platform, as you likely know, allows people to pay for personalized video messages from celebrities, athletes and influencers that are delivered to loved ones. These messages are typically about sending birthday wishes, congratulations on happy events or words of encouragement for people going through tough times.

But the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center reported that the service was recently used for a much more nefarious end.

Actors including Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Kate Flannery (The Office)and John McGinley (Scrubs) were among those paid to create messages for someone named "Vladimir." The messages were "pleading with him to seek help for substance abuse," according to the report.

RELATED: How Success Happened for Steven Galanis, Co-Founder and CEO of Cameo

The videos were then edited by unknown players to appear to be addressing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, to advance the false Russian claim that the leader struggles with substance abuse problems. In a previously widely circulated video where Zelensky appears to be happily admitting to using cocaine for an energy boost, analysis from Reuters found it was altered and he was talking about coffee.

The New York Times reports that Cameo released a statement re-iterating the company's community guidelines: "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."

A representative for Wood told the Times that the actor did create the video for Cameo, but it was "in no way intended to be addressed to Zelensky or have anything at all to do with Russia or Ukraine or the war."

Earlier this week, Cameo made headlines after it added disgraced former congressman George Santos to its roster. According to Semafor, Santos is in high demand and is on track to make his yearly congressional salary of $174,000 in just a few weeks. His most prominent customer to date is Senator John Fetterman (D-PA), who bought a Cameo to troll indicted Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Related: 'Corn Kid' Is Charging Hundreds for Videos on Cameo

Dan Bova

Entrepreneur Staff

VP of Special Projects

Dan Bova is the VP of Special Projects at Entrepreneur.com. He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim, and Spy magazine. His latest books for kids include This Day in History, Car and Driver's Trivia ZoneRoad & Track Crew's Big & Fast Cars, The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff, and Wendell the Werewolf

Read his humor column This Should Be Fun if you want to feel better about yourself.

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