Aussie competition watchdog investigating Meta over crypto scam ads

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The Australian Consumer Protection and Competition Authority (ACCC) is investigating Facebook’s parent company Meta for a long series of fraudulent announcements about the platform’s cryptocurrency.

The news comes just a day after the Cointelegraph announced that billionaire businessman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has filed criminal charges against the social media giant for allegedly giving users fake coded ads and fake articles using his name and likeness.

Many other famous celebrities, from Hugh Jackman to Nicole Kidman, have been hired to lure users into investment fraud.

The ACCC claims that Meta allowed cryptocurrency fraudsters to break Australian consumer law, and defrauded victims for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In a speech to The Australian on February 3, ACCC chief Rod Sims said that although their investigations are similar to those of Forrests, “the ACCC investigation is separate and deals with different legal issues.”

While Forrest’s case concerns possible breaches of the Commonwealth of Australia’s criminal law, the ACCC will consider whether Meta has “raised a concern” under Australian consumer law.

“Like Dr. Forrest, we believe that Meta does more to detect, prevent and remove false or misleading ads from the Facebook platform so that consumers are not misled and scammers cannot reach potential victims.”
Forrest claims that by failing to take sufficient steps to eliminate exchange fraud on its platform, Meta not only violates Australian money laundering laws, but acts “criminally recklessly.”

He will initially take his case to a magistrate’s court in Western Australia on March 28, with a hearing expected later this year.

In September last year, he also filed a civil lawsuit in the California Supreme Court, demanding an injunction. The case is still pending and no date has yet been set for the civil lawsuit.

In 2020, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) issued a warning about fake crypto ads approved by celebrities such as Jackman, Kidman and even Waleed Ali.

Pictures of other celebrities, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Richard Branson, have also been stolen to counter crypto fraud.

Australian Facebook users have reported hundreds of thousands lost to the scam, including an alleged victim who told The Australian that they thought the scam was legal because it originated in Forrest.

They said “Andrew Forrest is an icon for millions of Australians and you have a lot of respect for him, no matter what you think is legal because it is posted publicly via Facebook.”

RELATED: Australian billionaire sues Facebook for cryptocurrency fraud with AG approval

In 2019, Forrest was among several Australian celebrities, including Kate Winslet, who was wrongly reported to have witnessed a cryptocurrency scam.

A version of the scam cites celebrities in major fake news articles promoting a fake Bitcoin investment platform.

As Cointelegraph reported in August 2021, investment fraud cost Australian investors over $ 50.5 million in the first six months of 2021, with cryptocurrency fraud accounting for over 50% of losses.

Source: CoinTelegraph

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