Criminal Charges Filed Against Facebook in Australia Over Crypto Scams

Criminal Charges Filed Against Facebook in Australia Over Crypto Scams
Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Staff, Getty Images

Criminal action has been launched against Facebook by an Aussie billionaire who is alleging the social media platform failed to stop crypto scam artists from serving up fake ads using his image.

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, the Australian billionaire mining magnate and chairman of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals, is the man behind the Facebook claim.

As our friends at Business Insider Australia detail, Forrest alleges Facebook did not take sufficient steps to prevent criminals from using its platform to send scam ads that aimed to defraud “everyday” Aussies.

It is alleged the scam advertisements using Forrest’s image were promoting crypto investment schemes on Facebook. They reportedly started appearing on the platform back in March 2019.

“This action is being taken on behalf of those everyday Australians — mums and dads, grans and grandads — who work all their lives to gather their savings and to ensure those savings aren’t swindled away by scammers,” Forrest said in a statement on Thursday.

“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.

“Social media is part of our lives, but it’s in the public interest for more to be done to ensure fraud on social media platforms is eliminated or significantly reduced.”

In response to a request for comment, Meta told Business Insider Australia that the company doesn’t comment on legal matters.

“We don’t want ads seeking to scam people out of money or mislead people on Facebook — they violate our policies and are not good for our community,” a spokesperson is quoted as saying.

“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.

“We’re committed to keeping these people off our platform.”

Forrest actually penned a letter to Mark Zuckerberg back in November 2019, which basically labelled the alleged Facebook scams as “abhorrent”. At the time, Forrest questioned if revenue was more important than protecting the life savings of elderly people.

“You have the power and the technology to prevent these scam advertisements from running on your platform,” he’s quoted by The Australian as writing in the letter.

The case will have its first hearing in the Magistrate’s Court of Western Australia on March 28.