‘Finfluencers’ plead not guilty over unauthorised Instagram scheme

A group of influencers and former reality TV stars have pleaded not guilty to sharing an unauthorised investment scheme with the public, but will not be tried until 2027.

Former Towie cast member Lauren Goodger and reality stars Jamie Clayton and Scott Timlin appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London on charges relating to offering an unsanctioned financial venture to their Instagram followers.

Eight of the nine defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, with a trial in early 2027.

Love Island’s Eva Zapico was unable to attend the hearing.

Reality star Jamie Clayton outside Southwark Crown Court
Reality star Jamie Clayton at Southwark Crown Court (James Manning/PA)

The charges were put forward by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at an earlier hearing this month, which has previously claimed the stars had promoted the scheme run by Emmanuel Nwanze, 30.

The FCA alleges Nwanze used the Instagram account holly-fx trends, alongside Holly Thompson, 34, to advise on buying and selling contracts for difference (CFDs) when they were not authorised to do so, between 2018 and 2021.

The CFDs, the FCA says, were high risk investments that saw 80% of customers lose money.

The body alleges Nwanze paid former Love Islanders Biggs Chris, 32, Clayton, 32, and Rebecca Gormley, 26, to promote that account to their followers in 2020.

Reality star Scott Timlin at Southwark Crown Court
Reality star Scott Timlin at Southwark Crown Court (James Manning/PA

He also is alleged to have paid Goodger, 37, and her fellow Towie castmate Yazmin Oukhellou, 30, as well as Zapico, 25, and Geordie Shore’s Timlin, 36.

The FCA added that the combined total of their Instagram followers was 4.5 million.

A finfluencer is a social media influencer who gives advice on financial investments.

Each defendant is charged with one count of issuing unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

Should they be convicted, they face up to two years in prison.