Australian Billionaire files lawsuit against Meta over Cryptocurrency scam ads

Lavina Daryanani
Source: Dribbble

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, Australia’s mining tycoon, has reportedly taken legal action against Meta [previously Facebook] over its failure to address false advertisements about cryptocurrencies. The billionaire has alleged that the social media platform has breached anti-money laundering laws, as a result of which, Australians are being scammed and losing money.

Rewinding a little

Forrest has repeatedly raised concerns about this issue over the past couple of years. Prior to filing charges against Facebook, Forrest previously made a request for the company to refrain from using his image for the promotion of suspicious cryptocurrency ads across the site. In November 2019, he wrote an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the same. Back then, he had stated,

“My family and I have been the subject of scam advertisements on your social media network… Our images and the images of others are being used to encourage your users to invest in fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes.”

He described the practice as “abhorrent” and said Facebook’s senior leadership had been informed of the issue that saw them profiting from the advertising revenue.

Fast-forward to the present

Since false ads are still rampant across Facebook, Forrest has now stated that the company is “criminally reckless” for doing allowing so. By filing the lawsuit, the iron ore magnate has particularly brought to light Meta’s failure to “create controls” for the mitigation of its systems that are exposed to the crime.

Forrest said in a statement,

“This action is being taken on behalf of those everyday Australians – Mums and Dads, Grans and Grandads – who work all their lives to gather their savings and to ensure those savings aren’t swindled away by scammers.”

Under Australian law, a private prosecution of a foreign corporation for alleged offenses under the Commonwealth Criminal Code requires the consent of the country’s attorney general. As per Steven Lewis, principal of Mark O’Brien Legal – the firm that will represent Forrest in the case,

“The Attorney-General has given her consent to the private prosecution against Facebook in relation to alleged offences under subsection 400.7(2) of the Criminal Code.”

He also said that if Meta is indeed found guilty, it’d face a maximum penalty of A$126,000 [$90,000] on each of the charges.

The initial case hearing is expected to be scheduled on 28 March at the Western Australia Magistrates Court.