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Martin Lewis issues warning over the celebrities most commonly used in scams

Martin Lewis has issued a warning over the celebrity profiles commonly misused in scams – with the Money Saving Expert himself coming out on top.

The King, Taylor Swift, Elon Musk and Adele are also found on the list of high-profile figures seen in scams online.

MoneySavingExpert.com analysed data from Action Fraud, looking at how frequently public figures were mentioned in scams reported to it in 2022 and 2023.

The findings indicate that high-profile people from a range of sectors, including entertainment, business, politics and royalty, have had their names misused.

Jeremy Clarkson and Rishi Sunak were also among those to appear. The full list can be seen in full below.

Jeremy Clarkson is one of the high-profile figures whose identities have been misused by scammers
Jeremy Clarkson is one of the high-profile figures whose identities have been misused by scammers

The website, founded by Mr Lewis, said the data it looked at is likely to be a drop in the ocean, as many people do not report scams to the police.

Action Fraud supplied reported scams data based on a list of celebrities provided by MoneySavingExpert.com.

To generate that list, the website asked on social media for people to say who they had seen appear in scam ads.

Mr Lewis topped the list in the analysis of the most featured public figures mentioned in reports to Action Fraud.

The list in full

Here are the top 20 high-profile figures whose identities have been misused by scammers, according to the research using Action Fraud data, with the percentage of total mentions in scams:

1. Martin Lewis, 32.4%

2. Taylor Swift, 21.7%

3. Elon Musk, 13.9%

4. Adele, 2.7%

5. Holly Willoughby, 2.3%

6. Jeremy Clarkson, 2.0%

7. Mark Zuckerberg, 1.5%

8. Johnny Depp, 1.1%

9. Keanu Reeves, 1.1%

10. Ed Sheeran, 1.1%

11. Peter Jones, 0.9%

12. King Charles, 0.9%

13. Phillip Schofield, 0.9%

14. Richard Branson, 0.8%

15. Rishi Sunak, 0.8%

16. Rod Stewart, 0.7%

17. Simon Cowell, 0.6%

18. Prince Harry, 0.6%

19. Lewis Capaldi, 0.6%

20. James Martin, 0.6%

Here are the top 20 high-profile figures whose identities have been misused by scammers, according to the research using Action Fraud data, with the percentage of total mentions in scams:

MoneySavingExpert said Action Fraud data indicates victims have reported losing more than £20 million to scams misusing Mr Lewis’s profile in the past two years.

The biggest individual reported loss attributed to a scam featuring Mr Lewis was £500,000.

Mr Lewis said: “It’s likely that the criminals pumping out these scam ads effectively use their own in-house dark-web digital marketing teams, researching which celebrities and advert types get the best click through rates, and honing the way they work to be able to attract more victims.

“Almost certainly they will be collecting data on each public figure’s power to draw people in and how many people who respond to a celeb in an advert then go through to part with the money.”

Mr Lewis added: “And if it’s an ad with me in, it’s always a scam, as I don’t do adverts. Topping this list is about the worst compliment I’ve ever had.”

He continued: “The new Government has promised to ensure that tech companies have a clear obligation, and a clear financial incentive, to work with banks to prevent scams, identify fraudulent transactions and support victims. We’ll be watching closely to see if it delivers.”

Mentions of cryptocurrency, investing, retirement planning and promises to get rich quick are particular warning signs to look out for in scam ads, MoneySavingExpert warned.

Claims about scandals involving a celebrity may also turn out to be scams. Website links connected to supposed scandals may take people to an investment scam.

Ticket scams are also rife, with scammers also trying to cash in on the popularity of Swift’s Era’s tour.

People should look to buy from official ticket selling or reselling platforms and be cautious on social media, MoneySavingExpert said.

Fans of Swift have lost out on an estimated £1 million since UK tickets for her tour went on sale last July, according to data published by Lloyds Bank earlier this year.

Taylor Swift performing on stage at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (Liam McBurney/PA)
Taylor Swift performing on stage at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

If someone believes they have been scammed, they should contact their bank and the police.

Many banks are taking part in a scheme that allows people to get in touch simply by dialling 159 if they receive suspect contact that could be a scam.

Those taking part in the 159 scheme include Monzo, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Co-operative Bank, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Starling, Tide, TSB and Ulster Bank.

People in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can report a scam to the police by contacting Action Fraud. In Scotland, people can contact Police Scotland.

They could also contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an online scam, in addition to contacting the bank and the police.

If someone has paid by card, they could try to get their money back under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (which can be used for credit card purchases in some cases) or they could try to claim their money back via the chargeback scheme.

MoneySavingExpert said the research covers all mentions, including where more than one person is mentioned. It said Action Fraud cautioned that some unrelated reports may have been captured and some related reports missed.

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