The Qatari billionaire and former spouse of Janet Jackson, Wissam Al Mana, is suing Facebook due to fake crypto adverts featuring his name and image. Al Mana joins a list that includes Lord Alan Sugar, actress Kate Winslet, and media mogul Jon de Mol in having their identities and reputations used without their consent to sell Bitcoin scams, with de Mol having already sued the platform.
Scammers Leverage Celebrity Reputations
Al Mana lodged a High Court injunction against Facebook in Dublin last week according to The Times, claiming defamation, malicious falsehood, and false advertising, which Facebook helped to perpetrate by allowing the advert on their platform.
Al Mana’s image was used to promote a Bitcoin investment scam, which continues a pattern seen in recent years where scammers target specific geographical regions, illegally using celebrities or well-known businessmen in those regions to try and entice new investors.
Pattern Seen Worldwide
This pattern has been seen in the UK, where Lord Alan Sugar and Kate Winslet have also been used, and in the Netherlands, where Endemol founder Jon de Mol was targeted. De Mol is also suing Facebook for reputational damage after his face was used to help net scammers $1.7 million last year. Initially he was in discussions with Facebook over the matter, but had to resort to legal action after they ceased communications on the matter.
Facebook’s Tighter Controls Visibly Absent
In late 2019, British consumer rights website Which? warned about the scourge of fake Bitcoin investment adverts featuring celebrities, calling them “one of the most prolific internet scams” they had ever seen. Facebook had promised in 2019 to put tighter controls on cryptocurrency adverts, but it seems it is still all too easy for scammers to use other peoples’ identities to steal money.
Hopefully de Mol and Al Mana win their cases and Facebook is finally forced to do something about them. But then, with a US election coming up, the company likely has bigger fish to fry.