PSA: Libra scammers are already making the rounds. The crypto has not even been cleared for a public offering yet, and already fake ads, websites, and even Facebook pages are popping up offering discounts on the coin.
According to The Washington Post, around a dozen fraudulent groups purporting to sell the as-yet-unreleased cryptocurrency have sprung up on both Facebook and Instagram. The pages look legitimate with Facebook’s logos, marketing materials, and professional-looking images.
Some claim to sell the coin for a discount if the user visits an external website. Of course, these websites are scam operations trying to get people to turn over their personal and maybe even credit card information. Some of the ads have started popping up on Twitter and Youtube as well.
Facebook removed a number of the scam groups on Monday when it was alerted to them, but its inability to detect and remove the frauds immediately is not a good look for regulators that are already itching to shut the currency down.
“There is a deep irony here in Facebook being used as the platform that could undermine trust in the currency Facebook is trying to build trust in,” Cornell University economics professor Eswar Prasad told WaPo. “Facebook has an enormous worldwide network and enormous financial muscle . . . But the only way Libra will work well as a medium of exchange is if everyone can trust it. And that's the big question right now: whether there is going to be enough trust in Facebook.”
“Facebook removes ads and pages that violate our policies when we become aware of them, and we are constantly working to improve detection of scams on our platforms.”
Indeed, public trust is the key factor that has been cited by lawmakers hesitant to let libra go forward. Members of the Senate Banking Committee have already gotten wind of the fraudulent activity.
“This is another strong indication Facebook should take a very cautious approach to Libra and commit not to launching any product until U.S. regulator concerns are satisfied,” Senator Mark Warner, lead Democrat of the committee said on Monday.
To make matters worse, Facebook’s public response regarding the fake ads and groups rang hollow.
“Facebook removes ads and pages that violate our policies when we become aware of them, and we are constantly working to improve detection of scams on our platforms,” spokeswoman Elka Looks said in a statement.
Lawmakers were sure to note the platform’s lack of control over the matter. While it does not seem to have a problem policing users' speech and what images they post, it can't seem to determine when someone has placed a scam up for its own unreleased cryptocurrency.
Plus considering the ads have spread to other outlets beyond Facebook’s domain, the company is going to have even more trouble explaining how it is going to keep its high-profile coin safe for the public and free of scammers.
Image credit: Wit Olszewski via Shutterstock