GENEVA — Swiss police are investigating a fake ad campaign that appeared on social media showing a poster urging people to report their neighbors if they overheat their homes this winter – when an energy crisis is set to hit western Europe.
The bogus advertisement, which appears to be in public like on a bus shelter, offers 200 Swiss francs (about $200) for anonymous tips that point the finger at people who are heating their homes above 19 C (66 F) this winter. Photos of the poster were reportedly shared on Russian social media platform Telegram.
The ad shows a young woman on a cell phone above the message: ‘Does your neighbor heat his house above 19 degrees? Please let us know,” above a phone number – believed to belong to Switzerland’s Federal Department of Energy. At the top left is the coat of arms of the Swiss Confederation – an unmistakable logo for almost all Swiss people.
On its website, the department warned against the “fake” message and called it “manipulation”. Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported that footage of the poster appeared on Russian Telegram channels, was picked up by Belarusian news agency Belta, and Russian TV channel RT recently published a false report about the fines. imposed on people who overheat their homes in Switzerland.
The Swiss federal police said on Thursday they had received a complaint for “misuse” of the coat of arms and other possible crimes, and were investigating.
The Swiss government has launched a campaign encouraging the Swiss not to waste energy amid the expected energy crisis linked to reduced oil and gas supplies from Russia following its war in Ukraine. Consumers have been advised to take measures such as lowering the thermostat, covering pots and pans while cooking, and turning off lights and appliances when not in use.