Facebook facing criminal case from Twiggy in Australia over crypto scam

Australian businessman and mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has launched criminal action Facebook, the platform owned by parent company Meta, over an alleged crypto scam that used his name and image.

In a video released by the chairman of Forestcue Metals, he said that it is the first-ever case of its kind globally, with three charges being put forward.

Image credit: The West Australian

First reported in The Australian, the news outlet said the lawsuit “required the approval of the Attorney-General’s Department”, with Forrest accusing Facebook of “breaching Australia’s money-laundering laws”.

The case will be heard in the West Australian Magistrates Court in March.

This follows appeals from Forrest almost three years ago to Facebook to bring an end to the ads using his image in cryptocurrency “get rich quick” scams.

Forrest, the billionaire chairman of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals, publicly appealed to Facebook founder and boss Mark Zuckerberg in 2019 to stop the ads that promoted cryptocurrency scams. Facebook recently adopted the name Meta for its corporate parent.

Should Forrest be successful in his case, it could force Facebook to rethink and restructure its advertising processes and systems, as well as facing a number of fines.

He also asserted that he is “very serious about the case and about preventing bullying, and very serious about doing whatever small part I can do to protect the innocent from exploitation.”

“I allege Facebook was criminally reckless, by not taking sufficient steps to stop criminals from using its social media platform, to send scam, fraudulent, deeply dishonest advertisements, to defraud Australian mums and dads and innocent Australian users,” Forrest said.

“I also allege that Facebook failed to create controls or even a corporate culture, to prevent its systems being used to commit corporate crimes.”

Forrest stated that the Cryptocurrency investment schemes, using his and other prominent Australian’s images, have appeared on Facebook dating back to March 2019.

The Australian reported that alongside Forrest, Chris Hemsworth, Waleed Aly, and David Koch have all had their names and images used in the crypto scams.

“Social media is part of our lives, but it’s in the public interest for more to be done to ensure fraud on social media platforms is eliminated or significantly reduced,” Forrest said.

Forrest has also lodged a lawsuit in California, which accuses Facebook of “aiding and abetting fraud”, according to The Australian, also alleging that Facebook “knowingly profits from this cycle of illegal ads”.

He claimed that his pursuit is on behalf of Australians that do not have the resources on their own, Forrest being Australia’s second-richest person.

Meta told Mumbrella that it would not be commenting on the case, as it is an ongoing case. A Meta company spokesperson provided the following statement regarding Facebook’s approach to scams.

“We don’t want ads seeking to scam people out of money or mislead people on Facebook – they violate our policies and are not good for our community. We take a multifaceted approach to stop these ads, we work not just to detect and reject the ads themselves but also block advertisers from our services and, in some cases, take court action to enforce our policies. We’re committed to keeping these people off our platform.”

In November, Minderoo Foundation, Forrest’s philanthropic organisation, revealed that it is assisting a group of news businesses to collectively bargain with both Meta (formerly Facebook) and Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc by applying to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on their behalf to do so.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.