John de Mol, the Dutch billionaire who created “Big Brother,” is suing Facebook over fraudulent Bitcoin ads using his name and likeness.
He pleaded his case in Amsterdam District Court, saying that the social media giant had not only failed to prevent the ads from appearing on the platform but also that they did not respond to his complaints regarding the ads in a timely manner.
Scamming Bitcoin ads pull in the money
According to lawyers for de Mol, the ads promoting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency-related scams featuring his name and likeness have managed to rake in US$1.9 million [AU$2.7 million] from victims.
The billionaire is suing Facebook, saying the fake ads have hurt his reputation, and he is also seeking to force the social media juggernaut to automatically block ads that link him to cryptocurrency.
In addition, de Mol wants Facebook to hand over information concerning those responsible for creating the fake ads so that it can be given to law enforcement.
“We take the issue of misleading ads that violate our policy, and those that feature public figures, very seriously. These include the ads impacting Mr. De Mol,” a representative for Facebook told Reuters.
The representative added that the social media company works hard to combat fake cryptocurrency ads but that the criminals creating them are well-funded, persistent, and tirelessly evolve their tactics to circumvent the security procedures Facebook has put into place.
As for de Mol, he has a very successful career of producing hit television shows, The Voice, Big Brother, and their many spin-offs and incarnations around the world.
Not the first Facebook lawsuit
This is not the first time Facebook has faced a lawsuit over the unauthorized use of celebrities’ names and likenesses in fraudulent Bitcoin ads.
Martin Lewis, a UK-based consumer advice expert, sued the company last year due to similar fraudulent crypto ads using his well-known persona and reputation of financial expertise to lure victims into the scam.
“The first time my attention was drawn to this was a man who accused me of scamming him out of £19,000. I don’t do adverts, full stop. Any advert with me in it is a lie, it’s a scam. That’s where the anger came from,” Lewis said.
However, Lewis agreed to drop the lawsuit last January after Facebook agreed to donate more than $3.8 million to create an anti-scam project in partnership with Citizens Advice and launch a one-click reporting tool for users in the United Kingdom.
Facebook had banned cryptocurrency-related ads on its platform for a time, but it changed that policy back in May as the company began to ramp up their own cryptocurrency project.