Australian Billionaire Brings Criminal Case Against Facebook Over Fake Crypto Ads

Forrest alleges Facebook breached Australia’s money-laundering laws by doing little to stop the ads and that it “failed to create controls”


Facebook HQ in Dublin; Source: Shutterstock


key takeaways

  • Andrew Forrest is bringing criminal proceedings against Facebook for using his image in crypto scam ads on the social media platform
  • The billionaire said he was doing it for the people to shield them from future crypto scams by “criminal syndicates”

Australian billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has brought criminal proceedings against Facebook, alleging the company failed to prevent false cryptocurrency advertisements using his image on its platform.

The minerals mining magnate alleges Facebook, now Meta Platforms Inc., was “criminally reckless” for failing to take down the scam posts which have been ongoing since March 2019, according to a report by ABC News on Wednesday. Proceedings have been lodged in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.

Forrest also alleges Facebook breached Australia’s money-laundering laws by doing little to stop the ads and that it “failed to create controls or a corporate culture to prevent its systems being used to commit crime.”

“I’m concerned about innocent Australians being scammed through clickbait advertising on social media,” Forrest said, as cited in the report. “I’m committed to ensuring that social media operators don’t allow their sites to be used by criminal syndicates.”

Charges have been made under Part 10 of the country’s Commonwealth Criminal Code with the blessing of the Attorney-General, per the report.

“We take a multifaceted approach to stop these ads, we work not just to detect and reject the ads themselves but also block advertisers from our services and, in some cases, take court action to enforce our policies,” a spokesperson from Meta said in the report. “We’re committed to keeping these people [scammers] off our platform.” 

It’s not the first time the social media giant has landed in hot water over crypto ad scams. In 2018, the issue reached a fever pitch, forcing Facebook to ban advertising for anything related to the industry. At the time, the social media giant labeled the ads as being “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”

That decision was eventually overturned to only include initial coin offerings, according to its advertising policies. Some argue this change leaves more breathing room for scammers to exploit their victims, something, Forrest argues, Facebook has done little about.

“I want social media companies to use much more of their vast resources and billions of dollars in annual revenue to protect vulnerable people — the people who are targeted and fall victim to these horrible scams with their hard-earned savings,” said Forrest.

A hearing date has been set and will be held in the magistrate’s court on March 28.

Facebook parent company Meta Platforms’ shares fell 20% yesterday following the release of its latest earnings report.

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