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Australian competition authority takes Meta to court over fake crypto ads

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The ACCC specifically mentioned unauthorized or supported "scam" advertisements involving notable Australian people such as entrepreneur Dick Smith, TV host David Koch, and former NSW premier Mike Baird.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed a Federal Court complaint against Meta Platforms, Inc. (previously Facebook), saying that the company and its Irish branch indulged in "false, misleading, or deceptive conduct" by posting fake celebrity crypto adverts.

The complex and long-running frauds related to the ad have cost some people hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Since the beginning of February, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been researching Meta for allegedly fraud crypto adverts. Andrew Forrest, an Australian mining tycoon, sued the company for running ads that allegedly used his identity to mislead people.

The ACCC said that Meta "aided and abetted or was knowingly concerned in false or misleading conduct and representations by the advertisers" in a statement released earlier today.

Unauthorized or supported "scam" ads involving notable Australian people such as entrepreneur Dick Smith, TV personality David Koch, and former NSW premier Mike Baird was identified by the ACCC.

 The advertisements, as per the regulator, included suspicious links that led viewers away from Facebook and to a fake news article with remarks credited to the public figure supposedly promoting a "cryptocurrency or money-making scheme."

The announcement states, “Users were then invited to sign up and were subsequently contacted by scammers who used high-pressure tactics, such as repeated phone calls, to convince users to deposit funds into the fake schemes.”

"Meta is responsible for these ads that it publishes on its platform," said ACCC Chair Rod Sims, adding that the company intended to profit financially if the ads were not deleted:

“It is a key part of Meta’s business to enable advertisers to target users who are most likely to click on the link in an ad to visit the ad’s landing page, using Facebook algorithms. Those visits to landing pages from ads generate substantial revenue for Facebook.”

He added, “In one shocking instance, we are aware of a consumer who lost more than $650,000 due to one of these scams being falsely advertised as an investment opportunity on Facebook. This is disgraceful.” 

The ACCC alleges that the company's actions are in violation of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act (ASIC Act), and is pursuing "declarations, injunctions, penalties, costs, and other orders."

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