Martin Lewis: Money Saving Expert website issues warning as data shows celebrity profiles used in scams - news

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🚨 Over £20m has been lost to scams misusing Martin Lewis' profile in the past two years
  • Profiles of celebrities like Martin Lewis, Taylor Swift, Elon Musk, and Adele are often used in scam advertisements
  • (MSE) revealed high-profile names across various sectors have been exploited
  • MSE founder Lewis topped the list of most frequently misused names
  • Victims have reported losing over £20 million to scams misusing Lewis' profile in the past two years
  • MSE says that mentions of cryptocurrency, quick wealth and celebrity scandal are common signs of scams
  • Scam victims should contact their bank and the police, and can report online scames to Action Fraud or the Advertising Standards Authority

Profiles of celebrities like Martin Lewis, Taylor Swift, Elon Musk, and Adele have frequently been misused in scam advertisements, analysis of Action Fraud data suggests. (MSE) reviewed the data, focusing on the frequency of public figures' names appearing in scams reported to it from 2022 and 2023.

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The findings reveal that high-profile individuals from various sectors, including entertainment, business, politics, and royalty, have had their names exploited in scams.

The list compiled by MSE also includes The King, Jeremy Clarkson and Rishi Sunak. Action Fraud supplied reported scams data based on a list of celebrities provided by MSE.

To generate that list, the website asked on social media for people to say who they had seen appear in scam ads. MSE said the research covers all mentions, including where more than one person is mentioned.

It said Action Fraud cautioned that some unrelated reports may have been captured and some related reports missed. The website, founded by Lewis, said the data it looked at is likely to be a drop in the ocean, as many people do not report scams to the police.

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(Photos: Getty Images)

Lewis topped the list in the analysis of the most featured public figures mentioned in reports to Action Fraud.

Here are the top 20 high-profile figures whose identities have been misused by scammers:

  1. Martin Lewis, 32.4%
  2. Taylor Swift, 21.7%
  3. Elon Musk, 13.9%
  4. Adele, 2.7%
  5. Holly Willoughby, 2.3%
  6. Jeremy Clarkson, 2.0%
  7. Mark Zuckerberg, 1.5%
  8. Johnny Depp, 1.1%
  9. Keanu Reeves, 1.1%
  10. Ed Sheeran, 1.1%
  11. Peter Jones, 0.9%
  12. King Charles, 0.9%
  13. Phillip Schofield, 0.9%
  14. Richard Branson, 0.8%
  15. Rishi Sunak, 0.8%
  16. Rod Stewart, 0.7%
  17. Simon Cowell, 0.6%
  18. Prince Harry, 0.6%
  19. Lewis Capaldi, 0.6%
  20. James Martin, 0.6%

MSE said Action Fraud data indicates victims have reported losing more than £20 million to scams misusing Lewis’ profile in the past two years. The biggest individual reported loss attributed to a scam featuring Lewis was £500,000.

Lewis said: “If it’s an ad with me in, it’s always a scam, as I don’t do adverts. Topping this list is about the worst compliment I’ve ever had.

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He added: “It’s likely that the criminals pumping out these scam ads effectively use their own in-house dark-web digital marketing teams, researching which celebrities and advert types get the best click through rates, and honing the way they work to be able to attract more victims.

“Almost certainly they will be collecting data on each public figure’s power to draw people in and how many people who respond to a celeb in an advert then go through to part with the money.”

How to spot a scam

Mentions of cryptocurrency, investing, retirement planning and promises to get rich quick are particular warning signs to look out for in scam ads, MSE warned. Claims about scandals involving a celebrity may also turn out to be scams.

Website links connected to supposed scandals may take people to an investment scam. Ticket scams are also rife, with scammers also trying to cash in on the popularity of Swift’s Era’s tour.

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People should look to buy from official ticket selling or reselling platforms and be cautious on social media, MSE said.

Fans of Swift have lost out on an estimated £1 million since UK tickets for her tour went on sale last July, according to data published by Lloyds Bank earlier this year.

What can you do if you’ve been scammed?

If someone believes they have been scammed, they should contact their bank and the police. Many banks are taking part in a scheme that allows people to get in touch simply by dialling 159 if they receive suspect contact that could be a scam.

Those taking part in the 159 scheme include Monzo, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Co-operative Bank, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Starling, Tide, TSB, and Ulster Bank.

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People in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can report a scam to the police by contacting Action Fraud. In Scotland, people can contact Police Scotland.

They could also contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an online scam, in addition to contacting the bank and the police.

If someone has paid by card, they could try to get their money back under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (which can be used for credit card purchases in some cases) or they could try to claim their money back via the chargeback scheme.

Have you encountered scam advertisements misusing celebrity profiles? Have you or someone you know fallen victim to scams using celebrity names? What red flags do you watch for in online advertisements? Share your experiences and insights in the comments.

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