Fake investment ads persist on Meta’s social networks

According to Computer Weekly, online adverts for investment scams relating to property and crypto assets are still getting past measures designed to stop them.

Despite measures being put in place to block them, misleading and fraudulent investment adverts continue to be shown to UK consumers on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms, according to consumer advocacy organisation Which?, which is calling for the government to pass the Online Safety Bill as a matter of urgency.

They found multiple examples of red flags, such as adverts not carrying risk warnings or promising extraordinary, life-changing returns. Many ads played on fears of missing out on potential opportunities. Which? said it had also found various adverts for binary options, a so-called “exotic option” in which the ultimate pay-off is either a fixed sum or nothing. Binary were banned in the UK in 2019, and Meta instituted a ban on advertising them in 2018, since they are usually scams.

It is alarming that these types of adverts are still making their way onto social media platforms even after having measures have been put in place to clean them up. It is just as alarming, that people seem to fall for these schemes. Investment scams can put people’s savings dangerously at risk and are especially damaging coupled with the cost of living crisis we are all experiencing. These adverts are becoming more sophisticated and can capture a lot of data from the people clicking on them and manipulating them to offer up more personal information. Unfortunately, it can often appear that social media companies take a blind eye to such adverts as they in turn make their platforms money for being placed there.

People need to be extremely cautious of online adverts and even those featuring on social media. Being on these platforms does not automatically mean that they have been vetted so it is vital that people do their due diligence and check for and stick to legitimate websites. As a general rule of thumb, one should only invest money that could potentially be lost.

by Jake Moore, ESET

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