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An overview with Celeste Garib

Martin Lewis warns of “deepfake” social media scams. Here’s how to protect yourself

Celeste Garib, 6 September 2023

In a study from MoneyAge, 35% of people said that they trusted financial advice from Martin Lewis over their friends and family or their own research.

However, you may need to be careful about turning to the presenter for help after recent reports from Good Morning Britain of a “deepfake” scam using his likeness.

Deepfake technology allows users to create a fictional image or video of a person to manipulate as they choose. They can be used to put words in a politician’s mouth or put your face onto your favourite movie star, for example.

Unfortunately, this technology is increasingly being used by scammers to imitate influential public figures and convince unsuspecting victims to part with their cash.

Celebrity deepfake scams are on the rise

Martin Lewis appeared on the news recently to warn the public about a deepfake video using his likeness to promote an investment opportunity.

The video, which is almost indistinguishable from his real likeness, shows him championing an investment scheme he claims is backed by Elon Musk.

In reality, the investment scheme is false and those who put their money into it will likely lose it. Regrettably, many people could fall for this because, although controversial, people recognise Elon Musk as a hugely successful business leader. Martin Lewis is also one of the most trusted sources of financial information in the UK, so people assume that their money is safe.

This is not the only example of a celebrity being used in a deepfake scam either. As reported in the Telegraph, a deepfake video of BBC presenter Fiona Bruce recently circulated online.

The falsified news programme reported on the same investment scheme and the supposed gains that investors were making from it. It also included a deepfake video of Elon Musk himself promoting the scheme.

As deepfake technology improves and becomes more accessible, it is likely that more of these scams will appear.

Consequently, it is more important than ever to consider the source of any financial information and whether it is reliable or not.

Spotting deepfakes will likely be more difficult in the future

Identifying a deepfake video is already a challenge as they look incredibly realistic. Fortunately, there could be some tell-tale signs.

For example, you may notice a small flickering effect around the edge of the face or a patchy skin-tone. In some cases, the lip movements may not match up with the sound properly. Small details like hair or pieces of jewellery are also harder for the software to mimic, so these may look inconsistent too.

That said, these imperfections are typically only present in poor quality deepfakes. If the scammers are more experienced at making them, you may not be able to spot any of these indicators.

Additionally, the technology is constantly improving and removing these inconsistencies. For example, when deepfakes first emerged, the technology could not imitate blinking correctly and this was a common way to spot fake videos.

But it did not take long for developers to get around this and now deepfakes can easily show a person blinking.

As a result, it may not be possible to distinguish deepfakes from real videos in the future. This raises a more important issue about the dangers of looking for financial advice online in the first place.

The Financial Conduct Authority announced a clampdown on social media “finfluencers”

Deepfake videos are the latest tool that criminals are using to trick the public on social media, but scams were already a significant problem before they started to use this method.

In fact, according to Action Fraud, around £63 million was lost to investment scams in 2022 by victims who were enticed by social media adverts or contacted directly on a social media platform.

Further to this, there has been a rise in social media “finfluencers” – financial influencers – offering advice on everything from budgeting to ISAs and investing.

Unfortunately, many of these people are unqualified to give guidance about your finances and some of them are also deliberately scamming their followers. Even those who are genuinely trying to offer sensible advice do not know the unique details of your financial plan or your specific goals.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently announced a clampdown on these finfluencers. According to Money Marketing, they have published new guidelines about the way that financial instruments should be advertised and discussed on social media.

Unfortunately, even with these new rules in place, policing social media platforms is a significant challenge and there will likely still be lots of unregulated financial advice and investment tips online.

Work with a professional financial adviser to protect your wealth

Most of the finfluencers offering advice online are completely unregulated and you typically have no way to tell whether they provide reliable information or not.

Further to this, their advice is generalised and not tailored to your own unique situation and life goals.

Ultimately, this means that, even if you can avoid outright scams, you may still receive subpar advice that does not align with your own financial plan.

A financial adviser, on the other hand, must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who regulate the financial services profession. This means that you have peace of mind knowing that you are taking advice from a suitably qualified professional.

Additionally, an adviser will discuss your goals with you and help you create a financial plan that works for your lifestyle, rather than offering generalised advice.

Whenever you receive any recommendations about investments or other areas of your financial plan, it may be useful to contact your adviser. They can do due diligence on them and help you identify any scams, so you can invest with confidence.

This also applies to recommendations that come from trusted friends and family members, because they could be suggesting something that is actually a scam they have fallen victim to themselves.

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you are concerned about financial scams or need some guidance about your own financial plan.

Email hello@fcadvice.co.uk or call 0333 241 9900 for more information today.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investments should be considered over the longer term (minimum of 5 years) and should fit in with your overall risk profile and financial circumstances.


Categories: Investing

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