A British TV star is suing Facebook for defamation over ‘scam’ bitcoin adverts

Martin Lewis.

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Martin Lewis.
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Getty

  • British TV star Martin Lewis is suing Facebook after claiming that scammers are using his reputation to ensnare people in “get-rich-quick schemes” through fake ads on the social network.
  • Lewis has reported the fake ads, but said they can take “days or weeks” to be pulled down – and then they simply pop up again in a different guise.
  • Facebook said it does not tolerate misleading ads and is in direct contact with Lewis’ team.

British television star Martin Lewis is suing Facebook for defamation after discovering more than 50 “scam” adverts bearing his name.

Lewis is perhaps Britain’s best-known consumer rights expert, dispensing guidance through popular ITV television show “The Martin Lewis Money Show” and his website MoneySavingExpert.com.

But he said scammers are using his reputation to ensnare people into bitcoin and Cloud Trader “get-rich-quick schemes” through fake adverts on Facebook. The ads are fronts for binary trading firms, which he said are a “financially dangerous, near-certain money-loser.”

A sample of two Facebook ads described by Martin Lewis.

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A sample of two Facebook ads described by Martin Lewis.
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Martin Lewis

The adverts pose as news stories on websites including the BBC and The Metro, but link off to the scam websites.

Lewis has repeatedly reported the fake adverts, but said they can take “days or weeks” to be pulled down by Facebook. Once removed, he said “scammers just launch a new, nearly identical campaign very soon afterwards.”

“I don’t do adverts. I’ve told Facebook that. Any ad with my 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 said in a blog on his website.

“It’s time Facebook was made to take responsibility. 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 has issued High Court proceedings against Facebook and is working with Seddons media lawyer Mark Lewis on the case. Mark Lewis was at the forefront of efforts to expose the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Martin Lewis, who has a net worth of £125 million ($175 million) according to The Sunday Times, said the legal battle is not being done for personal gain. Any damages will be will be donated to anti-scam charities, he said.

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.”