Martin Lewis, financial journalist and founder of hugely popular personal finance site MoneySavingExpert.com, has had his likeness used by scammers for fake Bitcoin adverts.
Taking to Twitter to express his outrage, Lewis warned followers that his image is being used by Bitcoin scammers in an attempt to defraud vulnerable victims.
Lewis shared a screenshot of one of the scam ads, shown above, which appears to show his likeness alongside the headline “Martin Lewis lends a hand to British families with Bitcoin Future”.
The scam ad, which takes the form of a legitimate-looking advertorial circulated via email, goes on to state that Brits are making up to £450 a day from the Bitcoin scheme, leading to many “quitting their jobs”.
Be warned any email from me about Bitcoin is BOGUS, BALONEY and any other similar B word. Ignore, delete, and then wash your hands because these are dirty nasty scammers doing it. https://t.co/l738qTlg3P
— Martin Lewis (@MartinSLewis) January 21, 2020
The fraudsters claim that information has been “leaked” which shows that Lewis, known for his “honest money advice”, has been using a Bitcoin trading method to make money.
Lewis has issued advice for those thinking of investing in Bitcoin in the past, urging investors not to put money into an asset they don’t understand and citing the volatile nature of Bitcoin as a danger to new investors.
Naturally, the scammers, who make money when victims attempt to buy Bitcoin by following links on their page, prey on people who are financially at risk and desire extra income.
Scammers have deployed similar tactics in the past, using prominent celebrities and media personalities to defraud users. However, the use of Lewis’ likeness is particularly problematic owing to his public association with personal finance advice.
In November 2019, Coin Rivet reported how the likeness of Singapore Temasek executive Ho Ching had been used to lure victims into buying cryptocurrency via Facebook.
Scammers claimed they would reveal Ching’s “money making secrets”, which Ching described as “fake breathtaking quotes”.
Crusade against scam ads
Martin Lewis has used his position in the media to lead a crusade against scam adverts and fraudsters.
In July 2019, Lewis successfully sued Facebook for defamation for similar scam ads, which the social media platform allowed to run unabated for some time.
I sued Facebook for defamation over scam ads & settled in return for 2 things that LAUNCH TODAY
-1on1 scam help at new Citizens Advice Scam Action (paid for by Facebook £3m)
-New Facebook scam ad report tool & dedicated team (unique to UK).
Full info https://t.co/8YGfbzrCIF RT
— Martin Lewis (@MartinSLewis) July 16, 2019
As a direct result of the settlement, the Citizen’s Advice Scam Action group launched a new 1-on-1 helpline for victims of similar scams, paid for by a £3 million fund from Facebook, in addition to new tools for UK Facebook users to report scam adverts on the platform.
Meanwhile, 69-year-old British billionaire businessman Richard Branson has seemingly taken aim at cryptocurrency in a newly released series of videos targeting scams.
The series of videos is part of an attempt by the philanthropist father-of-four to respond to a catalogue of online frauds which have used fake images of the tycoon to endorse their phoney products.
You can read more about how scammers use fake adverts to defraud users here.