HomeIndices AnalysisInstagram influencers charged for promoting unauthorized investment scheme on reality TV

Instagram influencers charged for promoting unauthorized investment scheme on reality TV

Seven TV personalities, including former stars of “The Only Way Is Essex” and “Love Island”, have been charged by the UK’s financial watchdog for promoting an unauthorised investment scheme on social media.

The influencers involved in the scheme include The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) original cast member Lauren Goodger, 37, former Love Island star Biggs Chris, 32, and Celebrity Big Brother winner Scott Timlin, 36, also known as Scotty T. The group has a combined Instagram following of 4.5 million.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has taken action against these “finfluencers” who use their online platforms to offer financial advice and information. The other influencers charged include former Love Islanders Rebecca Gormley, 26, Jamie Clayton, 32, and Eva Zapico, 25, as well as TOWIE member Yazmin Oukhellou, 30.

According to the FCA, between 19 May 2018 and 13 April 2021, Emmanuel Nwanze, 30, and Holly Thompson, 33, used an Instagram account to provide advice on buying and selling investments known as contracts for difference (CFDs). However, they were not authorised to do so.

CFDs are high-risk investments that involve betting on the price of an asset, such as foreign currencies. The FCA has previously warned that 80% of customers lose money when investing in CFDs.

Mr Nwanze has been charged with running the scheme and faces one count of breaching the general prohibition of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, as well as one count of unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

The other influencers, including Ms Thompson, Mr Chris, Mr Clayton, Ms Goodger, Ms Gormley, Ms Oukhellou, Mr Timlin, and Ms Zapico, each face one count of unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

All nine individuals are scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 13 June. The FCA has also urged anyone who believes they have suffered a loss due to the scheme to contact their consumer contact centre.

This crackdown on “finfluencers” highlights the importance of obtaining proper authorization before providing financial advice and promoting investments. The FCA’s actions serve as a warning to others who may be engaging in similar activities without proper authorization.

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