From Russia, elaborate stories about fake journalists

The man appeared in a dimly lit room reading on his computer screen, which was reflected in his thick glasses. It appears to be a real person, but it has not been possible to verify their true identity. No one named Mohamed al-Alawi appears to have produced articles or videos before, as one might expect of a journalist. According to Active Fence, an Internet security company, the character has no educational or professional background, no network of friends or online social connections.

The video, however, showed what purported to be photographs of a purchase contract and the villa itself, creating a veneer of authenticity for gullible viewers. The property is actually part of a complex owned by Orascom Development, whose website highlights “the year-round sunshine, sparkling lagoons, sandy beaches and azure waters” of El Gouna.

An article about the video's claim appeared two days later as a paid advertisement, or branded content, on Punch, a news media outlet in Nigeria, as well as three other Nigerian websites that aggregate news and entertainment content.

The article bore the byline of Arthur Nkono, who, according to internet searches, does not appear to have written any other articles. The article cited a political scientist, Abdrulrahman Alabassy, ​​who also does not appear to exist except in accounts linking the villa to the corrupt use of Western financial aid to Ukraine. (Punch, which later deleted the post, did not respond to requests for comment.)

A day later, this claim made its first appearance on strategic dialogue. (She also served as an election observer in occupied territory of Ukraine during Russia's parliamentary elections in September.)

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