Potentially fraudulent ads appear on Instagram and Facebook, according to an analysis by consumer group Which?. And research charity presentations.
An examination of more than 1,000 advertisements on the two Meta platforms revealed that nearly half (484) were investment-related.
Of these, roughly half went to investment products, including unregulated cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens.
Some advertised investment products are vague, claiming to offer high returns without specifying how the returns are earned.
According to an analysis of the ad, a prohibited form of trading is being promoted.
Although the sale and marketing of binary options has been banned by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2019, a small number of binary options advertisements are still displayed.
Binary options are a financial product in which investors place a bet on the outcome within a specified time period and receive two options. The FCA banned them because it said they were gambling products masquerading as financial instruments.
When binary options were banned, financial regulators warned consumers against such investment scams.
In response to Which?’s analysis, Meta said: “We removed a number of ads that were brought to our attention for violating our rules, many of which were disabled before Which? contacted them.
“Promoting financial scams is against our policies and we are devoting significant resources to addressing this industry-wide issue both on and off our platform. We have recently started rolling out a new process requiring financial services advertisers targeting users in the UK to be authorized by the FCA. “
The Meta platform does not allow fraudulent activity, and it says it works closely with law enforcement to support investigations and keep scammers off its platform.
Execution can never be perfect, Meta told Which?, because both machine and human reviewers make mistakes.
Meta says it can’t detect every possible policy violation, and that just because an ad is placed on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean it complies with its policies.
Ads found for a company named Tesler
Spotted what appears to be a scam ad from a company called Tesler. 39 Tesler Investing Software ads are viewable this month, which one? Say.
Clicking on one of the ads prompted clickers to enter their contact information, and within an hour, a Tesler representative called them and asked them to open a trading account, the consumer group reported. The caller told the researchers that the Tesler software was a “complex algorithm… [that] Trade with 87% success rate”.
The consumer group’s analysis identified 89 ads with three or more red flags, such as risk-free warnings or a return promise, and 23 of those ads with five or more red flags.
Potentially misleading ads often promise large, risk-free and quick payoffs, exploiting consumers’ fear of missing out.
These ads were found through Meta’s public ad library, which showed viewable ads to Facebook and Instagram users in their country.
More protections ‘urgently’ needed
More safeguards are ‘urgently’ needed to protect consumers from misleading ads for potentially fraudulent investments, which? Say.
“If one consumer group and another charity can design algorithms and spot these ads, then the tech giants should be able to create effective systems to do the same on a much larger scale,” which said? Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy.
“The government must take critical steps in the fight against fraud by ensuring the Online Safety Act is passed into law immediately. Otherwise, we risk waiting much longer for alternative action to tackle the online fraud that has infiltrated the world’s largest search engine and social networking site media site.
“The government’s online advertising program should also build on the Online Safety Act, moving from the current passive removal approach to one that prevents scammers from entering the system in the first place. It should compel online platforms and other players in the advertising ecosystem to protect Consumers come from fraudulent and misleading advertising.”
Tesler did not respond to a request for comment. Meta did not respond to further requests for comment.