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Ex-Love Island Stars Plead Not Guilty to Promoting FX Schemes

Yazmin Oukhellou, reality TV personality, right, outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, on Thursday, June 13, 2024. (Carlos Jasso/Photographer: Carlos Jasso/Bloom)

(Bloomberg) -- A group of reality TV stars and social media influencers pleaded not guilty to accusations that they promoted an unauthorized foreign exchange trading product to millions of Instagram followers. 

The Financial Conduct Authority charged Emmanuel Nwanze, 30, and Holly Thompson, 34, of running an Instagram account that gave advice on buying and selling contracts for difference without authorization. Nwanze allegedly ran the FX trading platform and issued unauthorized financial promotions.

The watchdog said Nwanze then paid stars to promote the investments including former Love Island contestants Rebecca Gormley, Biggs Chris and Jamie Clayton, as well as The Only Way is Essex stars Lauren Goodger and Yazmin Oukhellou plus Scott Timlin from Geordie Shore. They are charged with inducing followers to engage in the investments. 

The stars, who have a combined following of 4.5 million on Instagram, denied the charges at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday. The judge said the trials would be split into two and are preliminarily set to take place in 2027. 

So-called “finfluencers,” who advertise financial products on social media — often without the appropriate risk warnings or authorization — are a growing concern for the FCA. 

The regulator asked firms to amend or remove 10,000 promotions last year — 17% more than in 2022. In March, the FCA outlined fresh guidance which mandates that influencers provide proper risk warnings when pitching consumers on financial products.

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