Martin Lewis, a man described as “Britain’s Money Saving Expert”, just announced plans to sue Facebook for defamation over fake advertisements featuring his image.
The advertisements have repeatedly appeared on the social media network over the last few months. Lewis claims the site has published “over 50 fake Martin Lewis adverts which are regularly seen, likely by million of people, in the UK.” The advertisements have all appeared on Facebook within the last year.
The advertisements all feature a similar theme: they promise to help anyone get rich quick through home-based business opportunities, cryptocurrency trading schemes, or binary options trading. Some of the ads mentioned specific platforms like Bitcoin Code and Cloud Trader, described by Lewis as “fronts for binary trading firms based outside the EU.”
Lewis announced the lawsuit on MoneySavingExpert.com this past week. His post featured some of the fake advertisements in question. He also explained the damages that have been incurred – to both investors and his reputation – as a result of the advertisements.
“Facebook is not above the law – it cannot hide outside the UK and think that it is untouchable,” explained Lewis’s lead lawyer. “Exemplary damages are being sought. This means we will ask the court to ensure they are substantial enough that Facebook can’t simply see paying out damages as just the ‘cost of business’ and carry on regardless. It needs to be shown that the price of causing misery is very high.”
The consequences of Lewis’s fake advertisements have been serious. Lewis claims one lady lost over £100,000 after seeing an advertisement, trusting Lewis’s name, and following through on the offer.
“Enough is enough,” explained Lewis in the announcement post. “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. I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me.”
Lewis and his team will report the campaigns, remove them from the website temporarily, then watch them re-appear weeks or months later.
The ads feature a similar theme. Anyone who has gone on a cryptocurrency news, analysis, or investing website will recognize the ads. They feature headlines like, “I have only £100 to invest; how do I make money?” or “Martin Lewis lends a hand to British families with revolutionary bitcoin home based opportunity.”
The ads prominently feature Lewis’s face in various recognizable situations. One ad is designed to look like a BBC News article, for example, while another makes it seem like Lewis is advertising the opportunity on Good Morning Britain and other major TV shows.
This lawsuit could be historic. If Lewis’s team takes the case to trial and Lewis wins, then it will be a historic blow for Facebook. The social network has been built on the idea that it’s not liable for what others post on its website – including whatever users and advertisers post. If a lawsuit is able to prove otherwise, then it could force Facebook to make significant changes to its current business model.
Stay tuned for more information about Martin Lewis’s lawsuit against Facebook’s fake cryptocurrency advertisements.