MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis is launching a High Court legal battle to “give Facebook a bloody nose” and change the way it operates over claims the site is publishing scam adverts causing vulnerable people to hand over thousands of pounds to criminals.
Mr Lewis is due to lodge court papers on Monday for a defamation lawsuit against Facebook over claims it has published more than 50 fake posts bearing his name in the last year, many of which are used to scam money out of people.
Mr Lewis told the Press Association the legal action was the result of months of frustration with scammers piggybacking on his reputation and preying on Facebook users with outlandish get-rich-quick scams.
He said people have handed over thousands of pounds in good faith, only to find the advert has nothing to do with Mr Lewis or his company.
Any damages won through the lawsuit will be donated to charity, but Mr Lewis said the real aim was to force the social media behemoth to change its policy and reduce the risk of such scams being hosted by Facebook.
Mr Lewis said: “There are customers who have lost a lot of money. Some of them won’t even talk to me because they’ve seen my face on the advert and think it’s me who has scammed them – it’s an absolute disgrace.
“I’ve had enough of this. It’s affecting my reputation, but more importantly it is affecting real people who are handing over money in good faith while the scammers are raking in the cash.
“I won’t be making a penny out of this, by the way – I’ve had a team of people looking at this for months now and it is time to take a stand.”
The television personality and journalist said: “I hope to open up a legal remedy for other people who have found themselves in the same boat.
“I don’t do adverts. I’ve told Facebook that. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done.
“I’ve got no idea how successful this legal action will be or how long it will take but I can’t sit back and let it (scamming) happen. I’m trying to give Facebook a bloody nose and actually get some changes made – or at least get people talking about this.”
Mr Lewis said he would be prepared to call a halt to the defamation claim if Facebook pledged to tackle the scam adverts problem.
Solicitor Mark Lewis of Seddons, leading the lawsuit, said: “Facebook is not above the law – it cannot hide outside the UK and think that it is untouchable.
“Exemplary damages are being sought. This means we will ask the court to ensure they are substantial enough that Facebook can’t simply see paying out damages as just the ‘cost of business’ and carry on regardless.
“It needs to be shown that the price of causing misery is very high.”