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British finance guru sues Facebook for scammy cryptocurrency ads

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UK's Major Banks Lose Unfair Overdraft Charge Case Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Martin Lewis, a well-known financial journalist and founder of consumer finance site, filed a lawsuit against Facebook today through the UK’s High Court, accusing the tech giant of defamation. He claims that the platform published over 50 cryptocurrency ads that falsely used his face and name to promote cryptocurrency trading scams.

Lewis notes in a statement that the advertisements often promoted get-rich-quick schemes that were actually trading options with odds stacked against the consumer. They had names like, “Stay Safe During 2018 Crash By Doing This Even With £250, Says Martin,” and they would link to fake news articles that resembled legitimate news outlets such as BBC News. “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,” Lewis says. “I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me.”

Given the recent boom in Bitcoin and other digital token prices, some people have fallen prey to get-rich-quick scams promising a way to jump on the bandwagon of Bitcoin millionaires. Ads like the ones that Lewis is challenging that target susceptible people have become lucrative in this environment, and anyone can advertise on Facebook as long as they have a credit card.

Despite his efforts to report the ads, Lewis says Facebook continues to let new advertisements using his name and face on the site, even after the original ones are taken down. It’s odd that Lewis is still seeing cryptocurrency-related advertisements on the platform when, according to Facebook, it banned any such ads back in January this year. Still, reports indicate that advertisers can easily elude the AI filters by using vague language. We’ve reached out to Martin Lewis and Facebook for comment.

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