/ Scams

Have you spotted fake ads using Martin Lewis’s image?

Action Fraud says it’s received more than 1,178 reports in three days about fake investment schemes fraudulently using Martin Lewis’s image. Have you seen them?

Fake emails and adverts fraudulently using Martin Lewis’s image have been going on for years, we’ve explained them and issued warnings here on Which? Conversation before, including Lewis suing Facebook for libel back in 2018.

But Action Fraud has clearly noticed a resurgence in these fake emails, saying it’s recently received more than 1,000 reports of fabricated ‘news’ articles leading to malicious websites:

We’ve noticed an increase ourselves. So what’s behind it?

Martin has been at the forefront of advice around the cost of living crisis with his advice, tips and opinions heavily featured across the media. Scammers are taking advantage of both elements and using his image fraudulently, believing people will see his ‘endorsement’ as a mark of trust.

We’ve seen the fake paid ads creeping back onto Facebook, leading to websites that mock up fake news sites:

Martin told me last month that he’s fed up that this continues to happen and that his focus was on getting scam ads included in the Online Safety Bill. Since then, the government has listened.

Martin and his team are currently analysing the bill. His full response can be seen on MoneySavingExpert.com.

Send us your examples

We’ll soon be covering these fakes in more detail, but before we do, we’d like to see as many examples as possible.

Have you seen fake adverts using Martin Lewis’s image? Have you been sent phishing emails leading to fake news websites? If so, please take a screenshot of them, and email the image attachment to:

conversation.comments@which.co.uk

With the subject line set as: ‘Fake Martin Lewis ad example’.

Please do also warn your friends and family to be on the lookout for these fakes. Thank you for your support.

Comments
Jim mcdonald says:
28 April 2022

Have reported those ads.but Facebook never learn reported to appropriate authorities as well

Nancy Durham says:
28 April 2022

I’ve reported several of these scam ads using Holly Willoughby, Amanda Holden, Simon Cowell and Ann Hegarty. They’ve also used Holly in a fake Slimming ad. Did Facebook take any action? That would be NO!!

Fred says:
28 April 2022

I have no sympathy for people who get scammed through Facebook. If they cannot spot fake ads they should not use it including online banking. In fact even if someone can spot fake ads, they and the rest of the world would be a much safer online place if they deleted their profile, deleted their account permanently and never went back to it. Go on do it………….. But you cant can you.

Peter Smith says:
30 April 2022

we can make mistakes you show no understanding we are IT or computer people I don’t use on line banking because I trust it you must think you are god

[Moderator: we’ve edited out part of this comment which did not adhere to Community guidelines .

It seems perfectly fair and reasonable that if someone be it an individual or an entity like Facebook aids and abets scammers to gain access to their victims by providing an advertising channel, then they are just as guilty as the scammer, they are also profiting from the scam. Turning a blind eye and refusing to acknowledge even the existence of scams on their platform is simply not good enough.

John Gedye says:
28 April 2022

All these platforms including Facebook of course must be held responsible for including these scams. It’s not good enough to expect the site user to be able to spot a scam because they are so expertly done it would be almost impossible to detect. These need to be taken out by the platform provider or heavily fined if no action was taken. The resulting fine needs to be well published so that the public are made aware of these scams. It’s an area that the UK Government and financial institutions need to close the loop hole before a lot more get financially hurt and their lives ruined.

Jean says:
28 April 2022

I receive at least 3 emails from “martin lewis “reputedly, daily I have tried to block them- reported them and asked them to be blocked and back they come next time I check my email. Hotmail needs to get to grips with recurring spam day after day after day in all their accounts.

Anthony J Glasson says:
29 April 2022

A friend of mine had his computer hacked some weeks ago and since then I have had a torrent of emails almost all pornographic details. I have tried blocking them , blocking the domain but still they arrive albeit caught tin the Junk folder. So annoying as the odd one does get through

Couldn’t agree more – this and other phishing scams too, incl some that have been going on for years. 🙄

Yet hotmail has managed to “disappear” into the ether genuine emails from friends who I’ve been chatting with for years – including my cousin 200 miles away, who I thought must have died, as he wasn’t replying to any emails. Except that he was, I just wasn’t getting them – they weren’t to be found in any folder, incl junk. Eventually he rang me!

I don’t have a problem with telling the scams from Martin Lewis’s genuine advice, since I don’t hang on his every word. Or every other word, if it makes a better cryptic headline for the tabloids, who no longer seem to employ their own journalists to write stories.

If the newspaper reporting is to be believed, the current advice is to “ditch” cash ISAs. It is true that banks and building societies have been abusing these savings vehicles for a number of years by offering low interest rates. But it is dangerous for anyone to hand out financial advice without carrying out an impartial personal needs assessment first. This is why IFAs are now heavily regulated and can no longer be incentivised through commissions.

Whether or not you should “ditch” cash ISAs depends on your personal circumstances, your other savings vehicles, your total investment income and whether you are a higher rate taxpayer or not. The problem with ISAs is that once the money is withdrawn, it cannot be put back in – at least no more than £20,000 in any tax year. An increase in interest rates, or a reversal of the current government’s largess on savings interest taxation could once again see cash ISAs become a valuable tax shelter.

It will be interesting to watch the rush for the exit go into reverse if Chase Bank start offering an ISA account at market leading rates.

People who have accumulated cash ISA’s over a number of years should think very carefully before they cash them in. Interest rates might currently be low but continuous compounding is beneficial.

Em wrote “Whether or not you should “ditch” cash ISAs depends on your personal circumstances, your other savings vehicles, your total investment income and whether you are a higher rate taxpayer or not“. That is the same message that Martin Lewis is actually giving; unfortunately, sensationalist media are taking words out of context, omitting others, and distorting his advice.

Ian Charnock says:
29 April 2022

I paid £250 on Facebook when I saw the bitcoin add because I thought it was genuine also one called anydesk I paid £200 but they keep ringing me asking for more money but when I told them it was a scam they got nasty with me but then someone else rings now they want to know who my life insurance is anydesk phone number is 07496761336 but they have other numbers as well

I think the off-topic comments I responded to have been removed so my comment (which for some reason is in moderation because it has a link – to another Which? Convo) can also disappear.

It took two days for the moderator to act on a report about off-topic comments that were likely to cause offence..

I think it should be well publicised that social media is not necessarily a safe place to buy financial products irrespective of the reputation or popularity of the person seemingly fronting the promotion.

The buyer of an investment is usually expecting a good return. This is wiped out [and worse] if the advertisement is not genuine and you can’t get your money back. A costly lesson and another criminal enriched.

“Not necessarily”? I would say that social media is not a safe place to buy, full stop!

I tend to agree, Christopher, but buying financial products through social media is a wide field, and I couldn’t rule it out absolutely because there is the possibility that it might work for some people. I certainly would strongly advise against buying things that way. Unfortunately, the forces propelling it are extremely powerful, hard to resist, and out of control; the hard facts of bitter experience might be the only way some might learn the lesson that there is no easy money.

Afternoon, we removed some comments reported earlier today. As a reminder, please see the community guidelines here. Thanks all and have good weekends

Can you forward the phishing emails without opening them though? I can’t see a way of doing this on hotmail? (Outlook). Thanks.

Emma says:
30 April 2022

Type “Martin Lewis network marketing” into Facebook search and you will see hundreds of multilevel marketing pyramid scheme reps using ML’s recent careless endorsement of MLM as a way of trying to legitimise this type of business. It’s certainly false advertising when research into MLM pyramid schemes shows over 99% of all those who sign up to “sell products” end up losing money.

But on Facebook ML is now apparently endorsing dodgy crypto ponzis, diet coffee, Aloe Vera and Inteletravel, the holiday company that recruits travel agents and then rinses them of their money. We’ve all tried reporting these things but Facebook always ignores complaints despite its policy about these businesses.

It is important to distinguish between ‘pyramid selling’ and multi-level marketing [MLM].

Pyramid schemes are businesses that recruit people whose job is to enrol others into the scheme, rather than selling a product or service. The nature of the business model means a few people at the top end up earning money, and the large number at the bottom of the pyramid will make little to none.

Pyramid selling is illegal in the UK.

Multi-level marketing is a similar structure, but there is a product involved. The product can be anything, but it is usually some aspirational type of product that will appeal to a particular market segment both as a desirable item in itself [to attract sellers] and as a fashionable or trending item favoured by the wider market. People are led to believe that, because they like it, it will be easy to sell to lots of other people. It is now spreading from products that might exist in material form across to virtual products that have no physical existence.

There are therefore two levels of consumer to protect, those who buy stocks of the product for selling on, and those who buy the product direct from the seller.

MLM has been around in some form or other all my life but it has taken on a new dimension following the spread of internet marketing, especially through social media.

At both levels consumers are being exposed to detriment — either by pressure selling to shift bulk stock or through false markets to promote sales.

The way that social media works psychologically draws people into the net. Sellers buy products they cannot sell because the market is not as big as they were led to believe and there are thousands of other sellers out there. Consumers buy goods they think will be cheaper or better than they turn out to be and feel obliged by the social forces at work within the social media concept to help someone to whom they feel affiliated by buying from them.

Where this all goes wrong in a big way is through the deception involved. False promotions and endorsements, products that don’t exist, and sales that cannot be fulfilled. The lack of an identifiable presence for sellers is another problem; they might only exist in cyberspace. Names can change and people can disappear without trace.

Warnings about buying on-line and through social media have been issued in profusion but there is always another generation of susceptible people for whom the chance of some easy money has a strong appeal and overwhelms their natural sense of caution. Unfortunately, some of the susceptible people, at both levels, are also vulnerable, so, on top of the financial damage they suffer, serious psychological harm can result.

I don’t know how these forms of marketing can be completely controlled, because the exploiters and the exploited are facts of life, but, in my view, it needs to start with the platforms on which these schemes are given life, and that is mainly social media.

margaret jeavons says:
1 May 2022

I have had loads of fake emails claiming to be from Martin Lewis I just delete them every time I receive one

Hugh Fletcher says:
1 May 2022

I occasionally get emails which are phishing, but look believable. I have tried to forward these to action fraud or the copied bank but every time it gets blocked by virgin media (who have my email account) because the email carries a suspicious link. What I don’t get is, (1) why don’t they block it before they send it to me, and (2) if it is being sent to the official action fraud site, why don’t they just deliver it, knowing that the point of action fraud is to receive such dodgy emails.

Nice one