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Don’t trust Martin Lewis* (*no, not that one!)

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MoneySavingExpert (MSE) Martin Lewis has spent decades fighting for the consumer, helping to build a high level of trust and respect with the general public through his financial guidance.

But that trust and Martin’s image as a consumer champion is being exploited by fraudsters and scammers intent on parting people with their money illegally. Online scams and fraud are on the rise and Action Fraud recently reported over 1,178 cases were brought to its attention over the course of three days using Martin Lewis’ image to promote and trick individuals into fake investment schemes.

Martin is not the only celebrity used by the scammers. Individuals as diverse as Sir Richard Branson, Holly Willoughby and Ed Sheeran have also been used to lure people in to fake investment scams. The National Cyber Security Centre said that in a four-month period it took down 300,000 malicious website URLs linking fake celebrity-endorsed investment schemes featuring famous faces.  

The fraud is usually committed via a spoof email or by adverts on social media sites of search engines. Martin Lewis is fully aware of the issue and has even gone as far as to taking Facebook to court over a fraudulent investment advert.

We look at some of the initiatives being employed to tackle the issue.

‘Take Five’ campaign

UK Finance started a campaign called ‘Take Five’ that includes three steps people should take to prevent themselves falling victim to fraud.

  1. ‘Stop’ to think before sending money and absorb the information.
  2. ‘Challenge’ the requestor and know that it’s ok to reject, refuse and ignore.
  3. ‘Protect’ by contacting your bank immediately if you feel you’ve been a victim of fraud.

Relating this campaign back to Martin Lewis, take a moment and remember - as the Money Saving Expert advises, he doesn’t do advertisements, he’s never trying to sell anything to you!

Online Safety Bill

After successful campaigning from Martin Lewis and The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (a charity founded by MSE), the Government confirmed a draft has been composed that scam ads are now to be included in the Online Safety Bill.

This means that any adverts that are showcased on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram or search engines, such as Google, will now fall under the regulations of the Online Safety Bill. It will now be the duty of online media firms to moderate the advertisements and apply a duty of care to protect their users from falling victim to fraud and if firms don’t adhere to the bill’s new regulations, Ofcom will have the power to fine companies up to £18 million or 10% of their annual turnover.

Social media firms

Social media firms have also been taking steps to improve their security and protection of their users against scams.

To help with advertisement transparency ‘Meta’, which owns platforms including Facebook and Instagram, has introduced a library of all the adverts that are currently live on their sites.

However, it’s important to note the list of adverts can include fake scams, such as the get rich quick schemes using MSE’s image. Facebook also launched a tool that users can use to report fake scams on its platform. At the top right hand corner of an ad there will be three dots with options to report the ad as ‘misleading or scam ad’ and to send a report of the scam.

Financial services firms

Banks and financial services firms monitor the internet for rogue adverts that may feature their brand or purport to be that company. These websites are typically taken down by the financial service company within hours of being identified.

Remember, as a bank we will never send you an email or text message which asks you to login to your account. And Martin Lewis the Money Saving Expert doesn’t post advertisements!

For more information on how to protect yourself, visit our Security  webpage.

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551