The Australian competition watchdog on Friday filed a lawsuit against Facebook owner Meta Platforms, because the social media giant was unable to prevent scammers from using its platform to promote fake ads featuring famous people.

According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), the ads, which encouraged cryptocurrency investment or money creation, could have led Facebook users to believe they were being promoted by famous Australians.

The lawsuit filed in the Federal Court also alleges that Facebook “assisted and aided or was knowingly involved in false or misleading conduct and statements by the advertisers,” the ACCC said in a statement.

“The essence of our case is that Meta is responsible for these ads it publishes on its platform,” said ACCC President Rod Sims. “It is alleged that Meta was aware … scam ads were displayed on Facebook but did not take sufficient action to address the issue.”

Meta said any ads that defrauded people of money or misled users violated policy and that the company is using technology to detect and block such messages, adding that it “has cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation into these case”.

“We will review the recent ACCC filing and intend to defend the proceeding,” a Meta spokesperson said in an emailed statement, refusing to comment further as the case was in court.

The ACCC said the ads featured images of various Australian business leaders, TV presenters and politicians and links to fake media articles with quotes attributed to the personalities.

Users who signed up were approached by scammers to convince them to deposit money into the bogus schemes, the regulator said.

“We are aware of a consumer who has lost over A$650,000 ($480,000) to one of these scams… this is outrageous,” Sims said.

Australian iron ore tycoon Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, launched criminal proceedings against Facebook last month for scam ads, including those using his image to promote cryptocurrency schemes.

The corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), typically handles complaints about financial fraud against companies. The ACCC, which is demanding financial sanctions, said it has been given temporary powers to file the lawsuit.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced a program to train Australian political candidates and influencers on cybersecurity to stop the spread of potential misinformation during campaigns for the country’s upcoming federal election.

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