Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis sues Facebook over fake adverts

A leading consumer campaigner is suing Facebook for publishing dozens of adverts using his image to promote scams.

Martin Lewis accused the social network giant of allowing his name to be used to ‘rip off vulnerable people’.

The founder of advice website MoneySavingExpert, said: ‘I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me.’

He said Facebook’s failure to banish such adverts highlights its ‘unending greed’.

It comes after Facebook was grilled by politicians for sharing personal details of almost 90million people with data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Martin Lewis, pictured with his wife Lara Lewington, accused the social network giant of allowing his name to be used to ‘rip off vulnerable people’

But Mr Lewis, 45, said: ‘I believe politicians have totally missed the impact of social media companies on real people and their pockets. It is about time they took this seriously.’

He added that Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg ‘pretends to be an honest and campaigning man but his company is a facilitator of criminal scammers … They have known about these scam adverts for years, and they are still happy to roll around in their dirty money.’

Facebook is accused of publishing more than 50 fake Martin Lewis adverts in the past year. The majority promoted schemes trading in virtual currency Bitcoin. But Mr Lewis said these were ‘fronts’ for binary trading firms based outside the EU.

Binary trading is a highly risky form of gambling on stock market movement that sees most investors lose money. The Financial Conduct Authority has said almost 100 firms are illegally offering such investments to UK consumers. It warned of online firms that take money, place no bets for customers then break all contact.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) has faced questions over the social network’s sharing of user information with data firm Cambridge Analytica

Mr Lewis said he has repeatedly asked Facebook to remove the adverts but they are often left up for days or weeks. When they are taken down, he said a ‘nearly identical’ advert appears shortly afterwards.

The campaigner, who has an estimated £125million fortune, pledged to donate any money from the case to charity. Mr Lewis, married to TV host Lara Lewington, said it should not be hard for Facebook to stamp out the adverts, but it ‘relies on me to report them’, adding: ‘It’s time Facebook was made to take responsibility.’

His lawyer Mark Lewis added: ‘Facebook is not above the law.’

A Facebook spokesman said: ‘We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and have explained to Martin Lewis he should report any adverts that infringe his rights and they will be removed.’

He said the firm was promptly investigating Mr Lewis’s requests ‘and only last week confirmed several adverts and accounts that violated our advertising policies had been taken down’.