Facebook Hit With Lawsuit Over Scam Bitcoin Adverts

MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis aims to ‘give Facebook a bloody nose’ for false adverts

The founder of MoneySavingExpert and well known money saving expert Martin Lewis is to began a lawsuit against Facebook in London’s High Court on Monday.

Lewis said he had taken the decision “to try and stop all the disgusting repeated fake adverts from scammers it refuses to stop publishing with my picture, name and reputation.”

Lewis said he had been fighting with Facebook for over a year to get them to stop publishing adverts for scams, that utilise his name and picture. One lady reportedly lost £100,000 to the scam adverts.

Enough is enough

Lewis said the defamation lawsuit is being done in his name only, and not on behalf of the MoneySavingExpert website.

He will seek exemplary damages and has pledged that any payouts will be donated to anti-scam charities.

“Within the last year, the social media site has published over 50 fake Martin Lewis adverts,” he blogged, “which are regularly seen, likely by millions of people, in the UK. These adverts are often for scams. Many have big pictures of Martin and his name, alongside a raft of false promises or endorsements – some then link on to fake articles which continue the theme.”

It seems that the most prevalent scam adverts are get-rich-quick schemes currently titled ‘Bitcoin code’ or ‘Cloud Trader’, which are fronts for binary trading firms based outside the EU. Lewis pointed out that binary trading is a financially dangerous, near-certain money-loser, which the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) strongly warns against.

“Enough is enough,” said Lewis. “I’ve been fighting for over a year to stop Facebook letting scammers use my name and face to rip off vulnerable people – yet it continues. I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me. One lady had over £100,000 taken from her.”

“I don’t do adverts,” he explained. “I’ve told Facebook that. Any ad with my picture or name in is without my permission. I’ve asked it not to publish them, or at least to check their legitimacy with me before publishing. This shouldn’t be difficult – after all, it’s a leader in face and text recognition. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done.”

“Even when they are reported, many have been left up for days or weeks,” complained Lewis. “And finally, when they are taken down the scammers just launch a new, nearly identical campaign very soon afterwards and the whole rigmarole starts again.”

Lewis said his was not the only public face this has happened to, and that it is time Facebook was made to take responsibility.

“It claims to be a platform not a publisher – yet this isn’t just a post on a web forum, it is being paid to publish, promulgate and promote what are often fraudulent enterprises,” he said. “My hope is this lawsuit will force it to change its system. Nothing else has worked. People need protection.”

“And of course, on a personal note, as well as the huge amount of time, stress and effort it takes to continually combat these scams, this whole episode has been extremely depressing – to see my reputation besmirched by such a big company, out of an unending greed to keep raking in its ad cash,” he said.

False advertising

Facebook meanwhile insists it doesn’t allow false adverts on its platform.

“We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and have explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights and they will be removed,” Facebook told the Guardian newspaper.

“We are in direct contact with his team, offering to help and promptly investigating their requests, and only last week confirmed that several adverts and accounts that violated our advertising policies had been taken down,” it said.

In 2015 Facebook had to tweak its systems to crack down on hoaxes and spam such as “click here for a lifetime of free coffee”, when they began popping up in user newsfeeds.

Quiz: Think you know all about Facebook?