April 23rd 2018
Consumer advice champion and MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis is suing Facebook over claims it has published more than 50 fake advertisements bearing his name. Mr Lewis claims that many of the advertisements have been used to defraud people out of thousands of pounds.
Mr Lewis is due to lodge court papers at the High Court today for a defamation lawsuit, with the objective of forcing the social network to change its policy on advertising. He says that any damages won will be donated to charities combating fraud. The action follows months of frustration resulting from fraudsters exploiting his reputation with get-rich-quick scams with titles such as Bitcoin Code or Cloud Trader, that were in fact fronts for binary trading firms based outside the EU.
Talking to Sky News, Mr Lewis said: "Enough is enough. It's about time Facebook took responsibility. This is about stopping Facebook facilitating the ripping off of vulnerable people and destroying my reputation at the same time.
"The biggest problem I've got is some of these people think I've scammed them, so they won't even talk to me to let me help them. These adverts are nothing to do with me. Facebook should not be running them. It's morally culpable."
He quoted the instance of a woman who had lost £100,000 to a binary trading scam as a result of one of the advertisements. Fortunately, because she had paid by card, she was eventually able to recover her losses.
Mr Lewis claims to receive around five messages every day from people who have seen the Bitcon ad and want to check it out. He said: "I hope to open up a legal remedy for other people who have found themselves in the same boat.
"I don't do adverts. I've told Facebook that. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done.
"I've got no idea how successful this legal action will be or how long it will take but I can't sit back and let it (scamming) happen. I'm trying to give Facebook a bloody nose and actually get some changes made – or at least get people talking about this."
Mr Lewis said he would be prepared to call a halt to the defamation claim if Facebook pledged to tackle the issue of scam advertisements.
In a response, Facebook said: "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. 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."