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A Dutch judge has ordered Facebook to remove fake Bitcoin ads using the image of the billionaire owner of the Big Brother franchise, John de Mol.

The Dutch tycoon sued Facebook after he found an elaborate scheme that used his likeness to scam investors of millions of dollars. At the time, his suit had also requested that Facebook prevented a recurrence and demanded that the social network handed over details of the scammers for full prosecution.

John De Mol

John De Mol

Fake Celebrity-Endorsed Bitcoin Ads

According to Reuters, a court sitting in Amsterdam has now informed Facebook to act swiftly or face a penalty of 10,000 euros for each time de Mol’s image appears on the platform, up to a maximum of 1.1 million euros (around $1.2 million).

Facebook had initially tried absolving itself from blame by saying it was simply a funnel for information from diverse sources and cannot be “obligated to act.” A claim the court refutes vehemently by noting that since the network has a policy for ads pricing, it should have a system for screening ads before they’re published.

“The company plays too active a role with respect to advertisements, which form its primary business model to argue that.”

The California-based social media platform said it takes cases of identity fraud seriously and would be making its scam ads reporting form available in the Netherlands next month.

“It is in our interest to protect our users from fraudsters, and when we find violators we will take action to stop their activity, up to and including taking legal action against them in court,” the company said in a statement.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads

No End in Sight

The use of fake celebrity endorsements to promote scam ads is prevalent in the Netherlands. As BeInCrypto previously reported, the Fraud Help Desk, a Dutch reporting agency, received damage reports of over 1.7 million euros in 2018. 

At the time, this number was understated, as only a few scam websites were apprehended and shut down. Many investors ended up losing their hard-earned money to scammers. Celebrities who got roped into these scams had their reputations tarnished by a scheme they had no hand in.

Beyond de Mol’s legal success, most cases have often gone unaccounted for. For the celebrities, it’s a painful pill to swallow as they often can’t track the perpetrators or shut down the ads. At the end of the day, they can only hope that the social media platforms that publish these ads can devise a new method to spot them and shut them down quickly.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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