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Australian competitors watchdog investigates Meta over crypto rip-off advertisements

Australia’s Client and Competitors Watch (ACCC) is investigating Fb’s mum or dad firm Meta for a protracted string of fraudulent cryptocurrency ads on the platform.

The information comes only a day after Cointelegraph reported that billionaire businessman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest was pursuing a felony case in opposition to the social media large for allegedly serving customers with crypto rip-off advertisements and faux articles. who used his identify and picture.

Many different high-profile celebrities, from Hugh Jackman to Nicole Kidman, have been fraudulently employed to lure customers into funding scams.

The ACCC alleges that Meta enabled crypto scammers to breach Australian shopper regulation, defrauding victims of lots of of hundreds of {dollars}.

In feedback Thursday to The Australian, ACCC chairman Rod Sims mentioned that whereas their investigation shares similarities with Forrest’s case, “the ACCC’s investigation is distinct and includes totally different problems with proper”.

Whereas Forrest’s case issues potential breaches of Australia’s Commonwealth Penal Code, the ACCC will take into account whether or not Meta has “raised issues” below Australian shopper regulation.

“Like Dr. Forrest, we imagine that Meta ought to do extra to detect, stop, and take away false or deceptive advertisements from the Fb platform so that buyers should not misled and scammers are prevented from reaching potential victims.”

10 Ways to Spot an Online Scam

Forrest claims that by not taking sufficient steps to stop the rip-off from being shared on its platform, Meta not solely violated Australian cash laundering legal guidelines, but in addition behaved in a method ” criminally reckless”.

He’ll initially take his case to the Western Australia Magistrates’ Courtroom on March 28, with a committal listening to scheduled for later within the yr.

He additionally filed a concurrent civil lawsuit in California Superior Courtroom final September, looking for an injunction. The case remains to be pending, the date of the civil case has not but been set.

In 2020, the Australian Securities and Investments Fee (ASIC) issued a warning on pretend crypto ads endorsed by celebrities together with Jackman, Kidman and even Waleed Aly.

Different celebrities together with Elon Musk, Invoice Gates and Richard Branson have additionally had their photographs stolen to take care of crypto scams.

Australian Fb customers mentioned they misplaced lots of of hundreds to the rip-off, together with an alleged sufferer who Recount The Australian they thought the rip-off was legit as a result of it featured Forrest.

“Andrew Forrest is an icon to tens of millions of Australians and also you maintain him in excessive regard, something about him would appear legit to you because it comes out in public by way of Fb,” they mentioned.

Associated: Aussie billionaire sues Fb over crypto scams with AG consent

In 2019, Forrest was amongst a number of Australian celebrities, together with Kate Winslet, who had been falsely cited as testifying to fraudulent cryptocurrency.

One model of the rip-off quoted the celebrities in pretend mainstream information articles promoting a bogus bitcoin funding platform.

As reported by Cointelegraph in August 2021, funding scams price Australian buyers over $50.5 million within the first six months of 2021, with crypto scams contributing over 50% of losses.

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