Martin Lewis has taken to social media to warn of a dangerous new deepfake scam which uses his face and voice to promote an investment app supposedly backed by billionaire Elon Musk.
The deceptive ad appeared on Facebook and Instagram, posing as a clip from a This Morning segment, where Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis often provides advice. The ad shows Martin Lewis endorsing a new investment app called Quantum.AI, which supposedly has a $3 billion investment from Twitter and Tesla owner Elon Musk.
The video, however, is entirely fake. Martin Lewis’s face and voice have been artificially created and manipulated to a frighteningly accurate degree – known as a deepfake – to sell an app that is, at best incredibly poorly reviewed online, and at worst a scam designed to steal money from unsuspecting victims.
Martin Lewis is a popular target for online fraudsters who use his likeness and reputation for their illicit benefit. In 2021, NatWest revealed that he was among the top five celebrities whose names and pictures were used in scam schemes. The bank estimated that the highest value case involving Martin Lewis reached £222k – slightly lower than scams impersonating Holly Willoughby, Alex Ferguson and Deborah Meaden.
The Online Safety Bill
In 2022, Martin Lewis championed a letter to the government requesting stricter laws around online advertisements, particularly on social media. It is believed that later this year the long-debated Online Safety Bill will be passed into law, which, among other regulations, should offer better protections for individuals against deceptive and fraudulent adverts. This bill has been years in the making and has gone through many rounds of revisions, with politicians still debating the breadth and scope of the bill.
Similar video and audio deepfakes have been used in an attempt to extort money out of victims, but the Money Saving Expert admits that this is the first deepfake he has seen using his face.
Responding to the deepfake scam advert
Martin Lewis took to social media to warn followers of the scam, commenting: “This is frightening, it’s the first deep fake video scam I’ve seen with me in it. [The government] & regulators must step up to stop big tech publishing such dangerous fakes. [People will] lose money and [it will] ruin lives”.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain to offer further warnings about the danger of deepfake scams, Lewis said: “It’s an absolutely terrifying development. This is still only the early stages of the technology and they are only going to get better.
“We are in a dangerous dystopian future and nothing is being done to protect people. It’s an absolute sham.”
In response to the high-profile scam, a government spokesperson advised: “The Government recognises the threat that digitally manipulated content can pose and takes the issue very seriously.
“Deep fake scams, which are fraudulent, will be caught by the Online Safety Bill’s illegal content duties. Platforms will have to take preventative measures to prevent fraudulent content appearing on their platforms and swiftly remove if it does.”
When asked about the advert, a Meta spokesperson advised that the ad did not fall in line with their policies and had been “proactively removed by our teams”, along with other similar adverts.