James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Martin Lewis's passionate response to his image being used for online scams
28 February 2020, 15:45
Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis opens up to James O'Brien how his image has been central to internet money scams - the latest has taken in £1.4 million in one month.
More alarmingly, the latest false representation of Martin Lewis was the fake news story that he has passed away - it came up as an advert on the Mirror which could be clicked through as part of an online scam. He said he had to phone up many members of his family to comfort them.
"There is absolutely no regulation of these platforms," Mr Lewis said, "when they are being paid to publish, they are a publisher."
He passionately urged platforms to take responsibility of the problem and prioritise vulnerable people who could lose money which would ruin their lives and mental health.
"I am not far from going out there and saying no one should trust advertising online because it is a wild west riddled with an epidemic of scams."
"It's about time that we had either legislative or regulatory change... what's happened is the Westminster bubble has focused on real danger to our democracy of fake news, which I would never trivialise, but that is an indirect danger.
"When you've lost £60,000 and it's your life savings and you feel stupid... the impact on your mental health is horrendous."
Martin Lewis' image was also used in advertisements on mainstream websites to encourage people to invest in sites that were instead scamming people out of money.
The MailOnline, the Independent and the Mirror are three of the platforms displaying the fake adverts.
The finance expert said his reputation is trustworthy and dishonest scammers are manipulating the trust of vulnerable British people to profit.
"Initially we thought there was about 100," he said, revealing that his team repeatedly reported false adverts on Facebook which would then pop up again a week later.
MrLewis said, "In one month alone scams involving me took over £1.4 million." However, the only law he could find to sue the social media giant for was defamation - he told James he can't even report it to Action Fraud because he isn't the victim of fraud.
He settled in the lawsuit in return for Facebook to dedicate £3 million to set up a new charity entitled Citizen's Advice Scam Action for anyone who has been scammed; while they are "by no means perfect," Mr Lewis said, they are the leader of the pack.
He urged everyone to police social media for scams.