Martin Lewis scam adverts
He doesn't do ads – so any you see are fake
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis's face has been plastered over the internet for many years now by unscrupulous fraudsters looking to scam people out of money. These ads – be they for cryptocurrency, investments, banks – are scams and not genuine. They're dangerous and you should be on your guard. Martin NEVER endorses products – and nor does MSE – so don't be fooled.
Have the 'Martin Lewis' scammers been uncovered?
A BBC investigation appears to have uncovered the scammers behind a plague of fake Martin Lewis adverts. But beware that these scammers may not be the only group doing this. Keep reading this guide for some of the most recent examples you need to be aware of.
Fake Martin Lewis adverts are RIFE
We used to see them on MSN News, Yahoo and Facebook. Then we started seeing them on Twitter, Instagram, Google and WhatsApp. Someone even created a Martin Lewis Facebook messenger account and used it to message some users of MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) privately.
We've also had reports of our users receiving phone calls from people claiming to be from MSE. Of particular concern, artificial intelligence is now being use to create computer-generated videos of 'Martin' which are terrifyingly convincing.
Yes, we're talking about fake Martin Lewis / MSE adverts. Scams. They've been around for years and we've been fighting to get them removed (more on our campaigning efforts later) – but sadly they're still out there.
It's not just about our reputation. It's about protecting you from falling for these ads and potentially losing £1,000s – even £10,000s. In this guide we'll show you examples of the dodgy ads and tell you what we're doing about them and what to do if you've been conned.
One user told us she invested in a binary trading scheme...
... because it was supposedly recommended by Martin.
Another said he'd spent £800 buying 'Bitcoin' on a fake platform:
The only reason I did this was because the advert showed that you endorsed it. I now know better.
And another agreed to pay £9,500 for a new boiler after...
... seeing an alleged Martin Lewis-endorsed advert.
I genuinely only 'invested' due to the 'connection' to Martin Lewis.
To be clear, when we say Martin and MSE never endorse products, we mean we don't put our name or logo to ANYTHING. Yes, we mention individual products and services on our site, but we don't 'support' them.
Our aim is to relay facts. You, our users, remain our priority. For a full understanding of how we operate, see our Editorial Code.
If you want to know what Martin or MSE thinks about a subject, come to our website or sign up to our newsletter – all our information is thoroughly checked and verified and, most importantly, is unbiased – don't just take what these false advertisers say at face value.
Here's a message from the man himself:
Where we've seen these Martin Lewis scams
So far, we've seen false ads online using Martin's name, face and reputation on:
- Facebook (including private messages from a fake Martin Lewis account)
- MSN News
- Sky Sports News online (via sponsored content by Outbrain)
- Google ads
But that may not be an exhaustive list, so be on your guard. Remember, if you see an ad with Martin that does not link back to MSE, it's fake. The quotes are fake. The tweets claiming to be from Martin's account are fake.
All the companies Martin's allegedly advertised have used Martin's name falsely and without his permission – even if a product relates to subjects MSE normally covers, such as energy or PPI.
Martin never, ever endorses individual products in that way.
For more information on how to spot and avoid scams in general, see our Scams guide.
The most convincing ads that'll lose you the most money...
The following false ad has a number of incarnations, two of which are below. One purports to be an article on our own website and one on the BBC's. These ads are some of the most dangerous because the binary trading sites they link to can lose you the most money.
The ads have been seen on Facebook and Yahoo. Astonishingly, a fake Martin ad appeared next to a Yahoo article about these fake Martin ads.
If you look closely, you'll see from the URL that this is NOT a real MSE page. Plus, even though this particular company calls itself Bitcoin Code, it's got nothing to do with the cryptocurrency and is instead just another binary trading site.
Look trusted and genuine? NO. These unscrupulous ads link Martin to binary trading (aka auto trading) sites Bitcoin Code, Bitcoin Trader, Cloud Trader, Blazing Trader, Stern Options, PlusOption and Tesler 2. They have nothing to do with Martin or MSE. The ads promote companies that will totally rip you off – DON'T touch them.
Of course, we can't tell you how to invest, but the Gambling Commission and City of London Police have both issued warnings about binary trading.
Binary trading isn't regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which means if things go wrong, you won't be able to seek help from the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. If you lose money (most do), you'll have no way to get it back via regulatory protection.
Fake Martin Lewis adverts to be aware of
The number of companies Martin's allegedly endorsing is growing all the time. Often, these firms disappear (with your money) only to pop up again with a different name and website, but with the same people and software behind them. As we've said, these companies should not be touched with a 10ft bargepole.
Below are just some of the many examples we've seen that falsely use Martin's name and even pretend to link back to MSE – we've purposefully not linked to these as we don't want to send anyone their way. If you've seen Martin being linked to any companies not listed here, please get in touch with us via email@example.com.
Most of the images below are screenshots we've been sent, so apologies the quality isn't up to scratch.
We've seen various 'adverts' over the years where Martin encourages readers to invest in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
To be clear, cryptocurrency is neither Martin's bag nor MSE's. Martin very rarely discusses it (he did once a couple of years ago), let alone promotes it.
Worrying, we've seen very convincing Twitter accounts impersonating Martin which encourage readers to invest in cryptocurrency – so watch out.
Binary trading & auto trading
As mentioned earlier, we've come across many adverts which use Martin's face to encourage readers to invest in schemes such as binary trading and auto-trading. Watch out for fake adverts like these:
We've been notified by MoneySavers about other companies falsely using Martin's face and name to advertise binary trading schemes, but unfortunately don't have the screenshots to show you.
Some fake adverts suggest Martin is encouraging readers to download an 'app' that will make them £1,000s.
Note that the following advert purports to come from The Mirror, but the URL indicates it's actually taking the reader somewhere completely different.
The companies below may be genuine, but they are falsely trading off Martin's name and we've had a number of reports their work is shoddy and that they massively rip off their customers. We suggest you stay away from them.
Life insurance cover
Remember, neither Martin nor MSE ever endorse products, which means never putting our name or face / logo to anything. Yes, we mention individual products and services on our site, but we don't 'support' them.
Reclaim PPI/bank charges
As you probably know, Martin and MSE have campaigned for years to help users reclaim mis-sold PPI. Although the deadline to reclaim has now passed, he would never have told you to pay for this service because you can get it for free – see Reclaim PPI for Free. Again, some companies used Martin's name and photo without his permission – don't go near them.
Mortgage & insurance brokers
Again, although mortgage brokers don't scream "scam", these companies have all used Martin's image without his consent. Stay clear of them.
Beware of door-to-door and cold-call scammers
Unfortunately, Martin's face isn't just being falsely used online. There's also a whole host of cold-call companies and door-to-door salespeople posing as MoneySavingExpert and dropping Martin's name into their sales pitch.
Once again, we NEVER cold call, whether it's on your doorstep or over the phone. See what happened when one of our news reporters called one of these fraudsters back.
These fraudsters can be convincing, so be on your guard:
I had a cold call from someone claiming to be from MoneySavingExpert. She gave me advice about energy and broadband. I shouldn't have answered any questions, but I ended up giving her some information, such as who my broadband provider was. Later I googled 'spam calls MoneySavingExpert, which is when I realised it definitely was a scam call.
If in doubt, remember that we NEVER cold call, be that over the phone or in person.
How we're fighting fake ads
Whenever we see a fake ad, we ask the host – such as Facebook or Google – to take it down immediately. At the same time, we will tell the company in question to remove any mention of Martin or MSE straightaway.
Unfortunately, we rarely get a response. So, despite our best efforts, nothing is done about it, and the ads remain in the public domain. But here are some of the inroads we have managed to make:
- Martin sued Facebook in 2018. This was a landmark campaigning defamation lawsuit after 1,000s of scam adverts appeared on the site abusing his name or image. He settled the lawsuit in 2019 after agreeing with Facebook on a major two-pronged action plan to fight the problem: that it would donate £3m to set up a new anti-scams project and create a scam ads reporting tool supported by a dedicated team, unique to Facebook in the UK.
- Citizens Advice Scams action launched in 2019. This was a direct result of Martin's lawsuit. Citizens Advice Scams Action provides one-on-one help for consumers who are worried they’re being scammed and those who have already lost money.
- Facebook launches new tool. This tool helps users flag ads easily and quickly and alerts a dedicated team of specialists to review and take down violating ads and investigate trends.
- Inroads with other major tech companies. This includes Google and Verizon (which owns Yahoo). We report any ads we suspect to be shown by these companies, though it’s a lot more difficult to tell whose ads they are.
More recently, in a big campaigning victory – including for Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert.com – the Government agreed to add scam ads to its Online Safety Bill.
Under the draft bill, online technology firms will have to moderate paid-for advertisements, as they'll have a duty of care to protect users from fraud committed by other users. If and when the Online Safety Bill eventually becomes law, it'll be a watershed moment, so we'll keep you updated on its progress.
Been scammed? Quick tips
If you've been taken in by one of the many false ads out there, you're not the first and you are not alone. Here's what to do:
If you've already responded to a scam, end all further communication immediately.
Call your bank directly and cancel any payments that haven't yet been made (including recurring payments). For speed and ease, you can call the 159 hotline to contact the fraud department of big banks.
Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via the Action Fraud website (England, Wales or Northern Ireland). If you're in Scotland, report a scam through Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or via the Advice Direct Scotland website. You can also report scams to Police Scotland on 101.
Another option (UK-wide), if it's an online scam, is to report it to the Advertising Standards Authority. Do this in addition to reporting it to Action Fraud / Advice Direct Scotland.
If you wish to seek further help, contact Citizens Advice (England and Wales) or Citizens Advice Scotland. Alternatively, you can contact the Financial Conduct Authority's helpline on 0800 111 6768 (UK-wide).
You can find all this advice and more in our full Stop scams guide.
Thanks to all the MoneySavers who've warned us about these fake ads so far. If you have been taken in by a fake advert and want to tell us about it, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and remember to include a screenshot where possible.
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