Facebook Sued Over Fraud Crypto Ads

News | April 30, 2018 By:

Martin Lewis, a millionaire British consumer rights champion and television personality, is suing Facebook over fraudulent crypto advertisements featuring his face and name.

Lewis is the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, a British consumer finance information and discussion website. He currently appears on ITV’s This Morning, Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, and as an occasional guest on other news and magazine programs. In 2012, he began co-presenting The Martin Lewis Money Show alongside Saira Khan.

In a press release last week, Lewis claimed that within the last year, Facebook had published more than 50 scam advertisements using his name and image to deceive people. The scams include get-rich-schemes such as “Bitcoin Code” or “Cloud Trader,” which are operating as fronts for binary trading firms based outside the EU.

Lewis said he has been fighting for over a year to stop Facebook letting scammers use his 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,” Lewis said. “One lady had over £100,000 ($140,000 USD) taken from her.”

Lewis added that the fraudulent crypto adverts were “likely to have been seen by millions of people in the UK.” He said he has told Facebook he never does advertisements. Any ad with his picture or name in it is without his permission.

“I’ve asked it not to publish them, or at least to check their legitimacy with me before publishing,” he said. “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.”

In January of this year, Facebook banned advertisements for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. However, the ban has not always been very well-enforced, as scammers find ways to cheat the system with, for example, slight misspellings of keywords.

“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. “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.”

Lewis is pursuing exemplary damages against Facebook, which is extremely rare in UK defamation law. If successful, he said any money won will be donated to charities combating fraud.