NatWest, one of the leading banks in the United Kingdom, has unveiled its annual Celebrity Scam Super League table, shedding light on the celebrities whose images have been shamelessly exploited by fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting individuals and pilfer millions of pounds. The league, compiled based on the highest-value cases involving bogus celebrity endorsements, serves as a chilling reminder of the prevalent scamming tactics in the digital age.
Peter Jones claims the top spot, Sir David Attenborough close behind
Topping the NatWest Celebrity Scam Super League is Peter Jones, the esteemed investor and renowned star of the popular television series “Dragon’s Den.” According to NatWest’s data, a customer lost a staggering £285,209 after responding to a promotional article that cunningly emulated a genuine newspaper interview featuring Jones. The scam article convinced the victim to make a phony investment, resulting in devastating financial losses.
Coming in at a close second on the list is the beloved naturalist and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough. Fraudsters used an advertisement on Twitter, falsely claiming that Attenborough earns £125,000 per month from investments in gold, natural gas, and oil-related stocks and shares. A victim fell for the ruse and lost £275,551, highlighting the audacity of scammers who exploit the trust people place in highly respected figures.
NatWest’s report exposes the alarming reality that the majority of celebrity scam ads originate on social media platforms. Among the top seven cases in the Scam Super League, both Facebook and Twitter have been implicated. In one instance, a customer was swindled out of £42,500 after an advert featuring Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and owner of Twitter, convinced them of an endorsement that never existed. This emphasizes the urgent need for a collaborative effort between industries and social media companies to combat this growing menace.
It is worth noting that Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield, previously joint leaders in last year’s Celebrity Scam Super League, have notably dropped out of the top ranks. Although criminals continue to exploit popular television presenters in scam ads, they have not successfully targeted high-value cases among NatWest customers.
The list also features other notable personalities, including Piers Morgan, Jeff Bezos, Martin Lewis, and Bradley Walsh. Martin Lewis, a well-known financial journalist and consumer advocate, has declined in his ranking this year, falling to fifth place. Astonishingly, Lewis continues to be used in many scam cases, despite his vocal disapproval of investment endorsements in this manner.
Investment scams decline but remain a grave concern
In 2022, investment scams reportedly cost consumers in the UK a staggering £114.1 million, a figure that represents a 34% decrease compared to the previous year. However, NatWest acknowledges that this decline should not overshadow the ongoing threat that scams pose to unsuspecting individuals. The bank remains committed to investing in raising awareness and prevention to protect its customers.
Commenting on the disturbing trend, Stuart Skinner, NatWest Scam Expert, expressed his concerns: “Criminals are using some of the UK’s most trusted and respected celebrity images to steal millions of pounds.” He urged the public to exercise extreme caution when encountering celebrity investment adverts online, emphasizing the urgent need for a joint effort with social media companies to eradicate these fraudulent ads.
To tackle the rising tide of scams, NatWest has implemented warnings on their online platforms and mobile banking app, encouraging customers to carefully consider investment opportunities before proceeding.
The alarming exploitation of celebrity images in crypto scams persists, despite the promises made by social media networks to crack down on fraudsters. NatWest’s league table offers a glimpse into the extent of the problem, revealing the astronomical sums of money naive and unsuspecting customers have lost. These figures, however, represent only the highest-value individual cases reported to NatWest, indicating that the actual scale of the issue may be far greater.
“Criminals are using some of the UK’s most trusted and respected celebrity images to steal millions of pounds,” emphasized Stuart Skinner. He stressed the need for a concerted effort involving social media companies and various industries to combat this pervasive form of crime effectively.
As NatWest continues to raise awareness and strengthen its preventive measures, individuals must remain vigilant and exercise caution when encountering investment opportunities endorsed by celebrities. The battle against scams demands the collective resolve of society, technology platforms, and financial institutions to safeguard the public and restore trust in online transactions.