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Japan billionaire sues Meta over celebrity investment scams

By AFP

May 15, 2024 09:44 PM


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Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said on Wednesday he has sued US tech giant Meta and its Japan unit over the use of his name and image in fraudulent investment ads on their platforms.

Online fraudsters commonly use Maezawa's name and picture without his permission to lure victims. One typical advert captions his image: "Started with 10,000 yen ($64). Gained 1.3 million yen in four days."

Online hoaxes posted on Facebook and other social media channels in Japan led to 27.8 billion yen ($178 million) in losses last year, according to the National Police Agency.

Maezawa, the founder of Japan's largest online clothing retailer, wrote on social platform X on Wednesday that Meta "is not making efforts" to take action to stop the unauthorised use of his picture and name.

"I hope to clarify whether their actions are legal or not," he said, adding he is demanding one yen in damages from Meta.

"If they're deemed illegal, it will make it easier for fraud victims to claim compensation, and it will be a major step towards deterring fraud."

He posted a screenshot of court documents on X which showed the lawsuit was filed at the Tokyo District Court.

Maezawa, who became famous internationally after paying to go to the Moon on a future mission operated by Elon Musk's SpaceX, has previously urged the Japanese government to act.

According to public broadcaster NHK, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party is working on plans to counter online investment scams that abuse celebrities.

Last month, four scam victims in Japan sued Facebook after being hoodwinked by fraudulent online investment ads that used images of celebrities without their consent.

The plaintiffs say they fell victim to adverts posted on Facebook offering high investment returns and which used images of wealthy celebrities like Maezawa.

And earlier this month, local media reported that a man in his 70s was swindled out of $1.4 million in an online investment fraud that used another billionaire's image.

NHK has also reported a case involving use of a fake voice of a famous economic analyst to defraud online users.


AFP


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