Dutch billionaire John De Mol, one of the most successful media tycoons in the Netherlands, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook for running fake crypto ads that used his name and image without permission.
According to a Reuters report on the matter, scammers ran a bogus ad, that has now been removed, that reportedly tried to convince users to buy Bitcoin from a company endorsed by De Mol.
Facebook Should do More to Block Scammy Ads
The billionaire creator of the “Big Brother” reality television program is suing Facebook for not preventing the ads from running on its platform and for dragging its feet on removing the fraudulent ads when complaints were sent in. Del Mol’s lawyers are asking the Amsterdam District Court to call Facebook to order. According to them, Dutch consumers had lost around 1.7 million Euros ($1.9 million) to celebrity-backed scams.
They want the court to order the social media giant to create a filter that automatically blocks ads that mentions De Mol’s name along with cryptocurrency, which they argue had caused the media magnate reputational damage.
This is not the first time a celeb has faulted Facebook for not doing enough to prevent bogus ads for running on its platform. TODAY SHOW’s Co-Host Georgie Gardner slammed the tech giant in 2018 for not rejecting an ad that used her image to defraud citizens.
Facebook’s legal representative Jens van den Brink said that Facebook could not be forced to change its procedures on ads monitoring and processing for an individual.
He explained that Facebook has a reporting system that allows customers to report ads that are deemed to be inappropriate and that the company removed the Del Mol’s bogus and once the complaints were filed by members of the community.
Judge Remmine Dudok van Heel who presided over the hearing questioned Van den Brink on Facebook’s vetting process and on whether the tech company checked the webpages the ads link to. Facebook’s director of product management Rob Leathern told reporters that the tech company takes the issue of fraudulent ads seriously and was proactively working to stopping them from reoccurring in the future. He was quoted in the Reuters report saying:
“The people who push these kinds of ads are persistent, they are well-funded, and they are constantly evolving their deceptive tactics to get around our systems.”
The menace of Celebrity-backed Ads
Celebrity-backed scams have increased all across Europe. In the UK, Action Fraud reported that victims had lost £27m to these scams from 2018 till date. Earlier this year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a stark warning to consumers to watch out for crypto schemes that were being promoted using celebrity images and in some rare occasions prestigious addresses to lure investors.
“Scam firms can manipulate software to distort prices and investment returns. They may scam people into buying non-existent cryptocurrencies. They are also known to suddenly close consumers’ online accounts and refuse to transfer the funds to them or ask for more money before the funds can be transferred.”
In Australia, celebrity-backed scams are on a winning streak. As Blockonomi reported, Australians have been targeted at every angle, losing over $14 million to scams in 2019 and over $2 million on crypto scams on Facebook. The most recent incident involved Australian TV presenters Karl Stefanovic and Waleed Aly.