Reality TV stars charged over investment plugs

Lauren Goodger
Lauren Goodger rose to fame on the ITV show, The Only Way is Essex [Getty Images]

Social media influencers with a combined Instagram following of 4.5 million people have been charged in relation to promotions of unauthorised investments.

The City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has charged them over allegations they were paid to promote the scheme.

Those accused include Lauren Goodger, who rose to fame on reality show The Only Way is Essex, and Biggs Chris who appeared on Love Island.

The FCA had previously warned it would crack down on so-called "finfluencers" if it considered posts were misleading.

Criminal charges

It is the first prosecution brought by the FCA against influencers regarding alleged financial promotion breaches.

The FCA has alleged that Emmanuel Nwanze, aged 30, and Holly Thompson, 33, ran an Instagram account under the handle @holly_fxtrends. The watchdog said it gave advice on buying and selling investments called contracts for difference, but without the required authorisation from the regulator to do so.

The FCA said that contracts for difference (CFDs) were high-risk investments used to bet on the price of an asset, in this case foreign currencies.

It said 80% of customers lost money when investing in CFDs because of the risks.

Mr Nwanze allegedly ran the foreign exchange trading scheme and issued unauthorised financial promotions.

The watchdog claims that he paid social media influencers to promote @holly_fxtrends to their Instagram followers.

Love Island’s Jamie Clayton, Rebecca Gormley and Eva Zapico, Towie’s Yazmin Oukhellou, and Geordie Shore’s Scott Timlin were also among those charged.

Mr Nwanze, Ms Thompson and the influencers they paid have been charged with unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

Mr Nwanze also faces one count of breaching a so-called general prohibition under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, which prohibits people from carrying out regulated activities in the UK unless they are authorised to do so.

If convicted, they could face up to two years imprisonment.

They will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on 13 June.