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MoneySaving guru Martin Lewis to sue Facebook over scam ads

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
MoneySavingExpert founder, Martin Lewis, has today issued High Court defamation proceedings against Facebook over fake adverts which have scammed users out of thousands of pounds using his name.

The TV and radio personality wants to stop “all the disgusting repeated fake adverts from scammers” which have duped users of their money.

Lewis said he has repeatedly asked for the adverts to be taken down, but as soon as that’s done, another advert using his picture, name and reputation, pops up.

In the last year, Facebook has published more than 50 fake Martin Lewis adverts, mostly get rich quick schemes relating to ‘Bitcoin code’ or ‘Cloud Trader’ which are fronts for binary trading firms based outside of the EU.

Lewis said he is bringing the defamation case in a personal capacity; it’s not being brought by MoneySavingExpert. He is seeking exemplary damages from the campaigning defamation lawsuit against Facebook and has pledged to donate all money paid out to him to anti-scam charities.

Solicitor Mark Lewis from Seddons law firm is leading the case. He was the lawyer behind the successful Jack Monroe libel case for defamation on Twitter, and represented the Dowler family in the phone-hacking case against the News of the World.

The MoneySaving guru, said: “Enough is enough. 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.

“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 – 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.

“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.”

Solicitor Lewis of Seddons, added: “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.”

Facebook ad guidelines state that “Ads must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers or business practices”.

A Facebook spokesperson, 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.”

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