Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Love Island and Towie stars charged with promoting trading scheme on Instagram

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The UK’s financial watchdog has charged seven reality TV stars, including former Love Island contestants and cast members from The Only Way is Essex (Towie), with promoting an unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme on Instagram.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has brought charges against nine people in a crackdown on “finfluencers” who have a total of 4.5m followers on the social media platform.

The former Love island contestants Biggs Chris, 32, Jamie Clayton, 32, Rebecca Gormley, 26, and Eva Zapico, 25, face one count of issuing unauthorised communications of financial promotions, an offence under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 that is punishable by a fine and up to two years in jail.

The Towie stars Lauren Goodger, 37, and Yazmin Oukhellou, 30, face the same charge, along with Scott Timlin, 36, a former winner of Celebrity Big Brother.

Yazmin Oukhellou, who starred in The Only Way Is Essex. Photograph: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
Scott Timlin, a former winner of Celebrity Big Brother. Photograph: Karwai Tang/WireImage

The FCA alleges that Emmanuel Nwanze, 30, and Holly Thompson, 33, offered advice on buying and selling high-risk investment products called contracts for difference (CFDs) over Instagram between May 2018 and April 2021, despite not being authorised to do so.

It alleges that Nwanze paid the group of seven reality stars to promote the @holly_fxtrends Instagram account to their followers.

Thompson and Nwanze have been charged with issuing unauthorised communications of financial promotions, and the latter has also been charged with running an unauthorised investment scheme.

All nine will appear before Westminster magistrates court on 13 June.

The FCA asked anyone who believed they had sustained a loss due to the scheme to contact its consumer contact centre.

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