British TV Star Sues Facebook for Defamation over Fake Bitcoin Ads
British TV star Martin Lewis is suing social media giant Facebook. He claims that online scammers are using his reputation in more than 50 fake get-rich-quick schemes.
Outrage and Delays
Although Lewis reported the fake ads, he’s outraged that Facebook has taken days and in some cases weeks to remove them. Lewis also notes that even if the original ad is disabled, similar ads pop up in a different guise.
Facebook is currently in direct contact with Lewis’ team. While the social media network does not tolerate misleading ads, Lewis believes that Facebook should be more active and aware of their online responsibilities.
“It’s time Facebook was made to take responsibility,” said Lewis in a blog on his website.
“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.”
Lewis is known as Britain’s consumer rights expert, especially through his television show “The Martin Lewis Money Show.” According to UK Business Insider, online scammers are using Lewis’s popularity and reputation to trick retail investors. Lewis sees these bitcoin and cloud trader “get-rich-quick-schemes” as “financially dangerous, [and a] near-certain money-loser.”
Unfortunately, these fake ads also appear as news stories on reputable websites such as the BBC and The Metro but link to fraudulent sites. “I don’t do adverts,” said Lewis on his blog.
“I’ve told Facebook that. Any ad with 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.”
Lewis has taken this issue to court and is currently working with Seddons media lawyer Mark Lewis on the case. According to the Sunday Times, Martin Lewis has a significant net worth of £125 million(~$175 million). The lawsuit is therefore not for personal gains. Any damages will reportedly go towards anti-scam charities.
Facebook has responded saying that they currently “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.”
“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.”
Dragon’s Den Stars Were also Involved in Online Bitcoin Scams
According to UK’s Mirror, a bitcoin scam also used the images of the judges in Ireland’s Dragon’s Den to trick consumers. Like Lewis’s fake ads, the fraud involving panelist’s of the Irish reality television program offered consumers a new way to trade through a platform called BitCoin Trader.
The ad targeted the average retail investor and asked consumers to invest a minimum of £250( ~$350). The BitCoin Trader platform was, unfortunately, a scam and instead of the investment. The cybercriminals simply stole money and the consumers’ financial details.
“The whole story actually reads very well if it wasn’t completely fake,” said Gavin Duffy to RTE.
“I know it’s not true but I’d imagine if you’re somebody in the UK you could easily be duped by this. It is a total scam. I contacted the BBC but trying to get these things down off websites, because it’s a paid for ad by the people behind this scam to give a sort of official veneer.”