Cryptocurrency scams claiming to contain advice from money saving expert Martin Lewis have spread to Facebook.
Numerous ads have been uploaded to the Facebook Ads Library claiming that people investing a small amount of money – between £190 and £250 – can generate £3400 a month.
The links used in the six ads uploaded to Facebook’s advertising platform take viewers to a poorly designed website that attempts to mimic the BBC’s website.
“Special Report: Martin Lewis’s Recent Investment Awes Experts and Frightens Big Banks,” reads the fake article’s caption. It encourages people to invest in a cryptocurrency auto trading program called Bitcoin Code with claims that it will generate huge amounts of money in a short period of time.
It also claims that “big banks are trying to cover it up” while using rising inflation and the cost of living crisis to encourage people to invest.
The sites running the ads, which have only appeared on Facebook and not other meta-platforms, mimic Amazon-owned book site Goodreads. Apart from the URL and a slight font change, the rogue websites look identical to the real thing.
The first ad appeared on the platform on May 4th and the last one was uploaded on May 6th.
“Ads may not contain deceptive, false or misleading claims, such as those relating to the effectiveness or characteristics of a product or service,” according to Facebook’s policies. These include “exaggerated claims, tips or tricks” and “false or misleading claims about product features, quality or functionality”.
“The ads in question were previously removed by our automated ad review systems LatestPageNews bringing them to our attention,” a Meta spokesperson said, but while they explained that their ad verification can sometimes take more than 24 hours, despite multiple requests, Meta has not provided any evidence to back up this claim LatestPageNewsand didn’t want to say how long the ads were active.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has had to settle for Mr Lewis’ picture being used for fraud. In 2018, Mr Lewis launched a High Court case against Facebook over claims that over 1,000 fraudulent ads on its platforms have resulted in vulnerable people handing over thousands of pounds to criminals.
Facebook and Mr Lewis finally reached an agreement after the social media giant launched a dedicated tool for reporting fraudulent ads and donated £3million to a new Citizens Advice project to stop the spread.
“It would not have required the threat of legal action to get here. But once we started talking, Facebook quickly recognized the scale of the problem and its impact on real people, and agreed to commit to making a difference both on its own platform and across the sector,” Lewis said at the time. It’s unclear why Facebook didn’t recognize these ads before they went live on its platform.
Facebook’s advertising platform has been criticized for lax rules in the past. An investigation of LatestPageNews Last year, it was found that companies can use fake testimonials attributed to Twitter accounts that don’t exist to advertise on Facebook and Instagram, even though Facebook’s advertising policies prohibit “deceptive, false, or misleading claims.”
told FacebookLatestPageNews that the ads did not violate its policies by not making misleading claims about the benefits of a product, service, or functionality.
When LatestPageNews When asked how testimonials from seemingly fake Twitter accounts could be interpreted as anything other than a misleading claim about a product’s benefits, and that companies could theoretically circumvent Facebook’s policies by doing so, Facebook declined to comment.
Besides Facebook, Microsoft’s advertising platform has also been used to share scams. A fake “Amazon” website that tried to scam people into thinking they were investing in Tesla was inadvertently promoted on Microsoft’s news website.
“We have numerous controls in place to identify advertising that does not comply with our policies and terms of service, including including and blocking the FCA lists of unauthorized domains,” Microsoft said in a statement LatestPageNews back then.