The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sues Facebook‘s parent company, Meta, over targeted fake crypto ads that have scammed Australians out of more than $100 million. The ACCC alleges the company engaged in false, misleading, and deceptive conduct by publishing scam advertisements featuring prominent Australians. The ACCC says that, in one instance, a victim lost $650,000 to a scam. Fake ads on Google and Facebook are the most efficient way for scammers to chase victims.
The ACCC alleges the ads — which promoted fake crypto investments or other financial schemes — used targeted algorithms directed at people “most likely to be scammed.” These fake ads used images of businessman Dick Smith, TV presenter David Koch, and former New South Wales premier Mike Baird.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said people had lost a lot of money through the ads and that Facebook wouldn’t have taken sufficient action to prevent the fake ads. “These ads are very successful,” he said. They would have created reputational damage for those involved. Victims contacted the well-known people presented in the ads saying, “I followed your advice and lost a lot of money.“
Rod Sims said the ACCC would have easily seen more than $100 million lost from victims through the scams. The ACCC argues that Meta‘s conduct breached Australian Consumer Law (ACL), or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act.
In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said the company did not want to see “ads seeking to scam people out of money or mislead people on Facebook“. They would use technology to detect and block scam ads.