Fake investment ads continue to appear on Mater’s social networks

Despite measures to block them, misleading and deceptive investment ads continue to be shown to UK consumers Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms, according to consumer advocacy organizations Which one?which called on the government To pass the online security bill As a matter of urgency

Which one? Worked with Demos Consulting to conduct both human and automated analysis of ads available in Meta’s ad library – a publicly available tool that shows which ads are visible to Facebook and Instagram users in a given country.

They found multiple examples of red flags, such as ads that didn’t carry risk warnings or promised sensational, life-changing returns. Many of these ads were run out of fear of missing out on potential opportunities

A quarter of such ads are related to property investments, while only 22% are related to crypto assets, such as virtual currencies or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In about 10% of cases, the nature of the product or service advertised was unclear.

Which one? said it found several ads for binary options, a so-called “external option” where the final payout is a fixed sum or nothing. Binary options are usually scams – the UK banned them in 2019 and Meta banned their advertising in 2018.

The agency said the presence of these ads meant consumers were being misled into making poor or risky investment choices and in some cases were being defrauded, with an average loss of £45,000 per person. From “clone” firm investment scams.

“It is extremely concerning that misleading and potentially fraudulent investment ads are still being shown to Facebook and Instagram users, putting consumers at great risk of financial and emotional harm,” said Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the ?

“If a consumer group and another charity can design algorithms and uncover these ads, then tech giants should be able to create effective systems to do the same on a larger scale.

“The Government must take an important step in the fight against fraud by ensuring that the Online Security Bill is passed into law without further delay. Otherwise, we can wait longer for alternative measures to combat online fraud infiltrating the world’s largest search engines and social media sites.”

Concha added: “The government’s online advertising program should also be based on the Online Security Bill to move from the current reactive takedown approach to one that prevents scammers from entering the system. This should compel online platforms and other players in the advertising ecosystem to protect consumers from deceptive and misleading advertising.”

In one case, the analysis highlighted a repeat offender who was remarkably persistent in posting anti-social ads on the Metar platform between November 2021 and March 2022. These ads focused on a piece of software called Tesla, and 20 of them raised eight separate red flags of serious risk. – Significantly using a brand name similar to carmaker Tesla, perhaps trying to attract people by suggesting a link that isn’t there.

It found Teslar ads posted by 28 different pages, many entirely unrelated to investing, and said the variety of pages used and the frequency of postings suggested a coordinated campaign to spread the risky ads to a wider audience by tapping into topics of interest. , such as food or news.

An ad was found linking to a Google-produced website exploiting the financial magazine’s branding Forbes And that implies an endorsement Forbes never gave

Which one? Researchers who clicked on one of Tesla’s ads were asked to enter their contact details and within an hour were telephoned by a representative who pressed them to set up a trading account, claiming during the conversation that Tesla’s “sophisticated algorithm” had an “87 ” was the % success rate”.

Which one? The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) previously warned of a fraudulent investment company using the Tesla brand name and masquerading as a known and regulated trading company, but which one? The investigation was unable to prove a link between the two.

Which one? Tessler collected 39 unique ads mentioned, and despite reporting its results, Tessler’s ads will still be available on the Meta platform on 2 December 2022. That said, Tesla is almost certainly a scam. The company tried to contact itself, but could not find a way to do so.

A Meta spokesperson said: “We have removed a number of ads that were brought to our attention for breaking our rules, many of which had already been disabled prior to being contacted. It is against our policy to promote financial scams and we strongly discourage this industry on and off our platforms. We are devoting significant resources to tackling the widespread problem. We have recently started introducing a new process which will require financial services advertisers targeting UK users to be approved by the FCA.”

Meta also said it does not allow fraudulent activity on any of its platforms and works closely with law enforcement to support investigations and keep scammers off its platform.

It noted that enforcement actions can never have a 100% success rate because both automated and human reviewers can make mistakes. As such, it cannot detect all possible policy violations, which means that if an ad is running on a meta property, it may not necessarily comply. More details on its ad review process can be found here.

Which one? As noted, Meta doesn’t have a problem with nudity ads per se, but it is considerably more transparent about the ads it publishes, making the investigation somewhat easier. It called on Meta and others to increase and improve this transparency, and said online platforms could better deploy their technology to develop algorithms to detect and remove harmful ads at scale.

A full report of which can be found here.

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