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Anorak | Martin Lewis sues Facebook over scam ads; but who watches MoneySupermarket?

Martin Lewis sues Facebook over scam ads; but who watches MoneySupermarket?

by | 23rd, April 2018

The added benefits of ‘money saving expert’ Martin Lewis suing Facebook for allowing fraudsters to use his name to trick money from people who trust him is that Facebook gets another kicking – good news for publishers jealous and wary of its power – and media-savy Lewis gets to be relevant. Lewis has built a very lucrative career advising people how to save cash. In 2012, he sold MoneySavingExert.com for £87m to MoneySupermarket.com, which runs an online price comparison service.

As the BBC reported at the time:

In the 12 months to the end of last October, MoneySavingExpert generated revenues of nearly £16m from 39 million users. Of this income, about 59% was earned from referral fees paid by MoneySupermarket.

It’s no mere tip-sheet.

In 2017, MoneySavingExpert reported:

Comparison site MoneySupermarket has been fined £80,000 after it sent an email to millions of customers who had opted out of marketing messages.

The story on MoneySavingExpert.com makes no mention of the site’s relationship to MoneySupermarket. Is that fair?

 

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Martin Lewis at the top of a story that makes no reference to the fact MoneySavingExpert is owned by MoneySupermarket.

 

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No mention of the sites’ relationship in the story

 

Promoting financial products is a lucrative business.

Lewis says Facebook earns money from the fake ads, making it is responsible for them. What’s odd and troubling is that Facebook, having taken the villains’ money, seems less bothered about punishing the crooks. How many of them just book another ad?

“It’s so distressing, when all my life I have campaigned against this kind of thing,” says Mr Lewis, whose face has appeared on over 50 different ads on Facebook, reports the Times. The social network does take them down – but as Lewis says: “It can take a couple of weeks and another one just pops up again. Why should I have to police this? Enough is enough. 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. One lady had over £100,000 taken from her.”

Someone invested £100,000 in a financial product they first saw on Facebook because it featured a photo of a bloke from the telly? What madness. No wonder conmen feel it’s worth having a go.

 

matin lewis fake ads facebook

An example of a Facebook ad using Lewis’s face – and his response

 

“I’ve told Facebook that,” adds Lewis. “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 – after all, it’s a leader in face and text recognition. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done.”

That seems fair. Why should the victim have to report the crime to the company promoting the scam and earning money from it? And what does Facebook do with money earned from these ads?

“It’s time Facebook was made to take responsibility,”Lewis continues. “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, promote what are often fraudulent enterprises. My hope is this lawsuit will force it to change its system. Nothing else has worked. People need protection. And of course, on a personal note, as well as the huge amount of time, stress and effort it takes to continually combat these scams, this whole episode has been extremely depressing – to see my reputation besmirched by such a big company, out of an unending greed to keep raking in its ad cash.”

Mark Lewis, a solicitor with Seddons law firm who is bringing the case, outlines the case:

“Facebook is not above the law – it cannot hide outside the UK and think that it is untouchable. 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.”

A Facebook spokesman replies:

“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.”

Buyer beware.



Posted: 23rd, April 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink