Businessman sues Meta over advertising scams


Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said on Wednesday that he has sued the American technology giant Meta and its unit in Japan over the use of his name and photo in fraudulent investment advertisements on these platforms.

Online scammers are using Maezawa’s name and photo without his permission to lure victims. One ad with his photo reads: “I started with 10,000 yen. I made 1.3 million yen in four days.”

Online pranks on Facebook and other social media channels led to 27.8 billion yen in losses in Japan last year, according to the national police agency.

Maezawa, founder of Japan’s largest online clothing retailer, said on X (Twitter) on Wednesday that Meta “makes no effort” to take action against the unauthorized use of his photo and name.

“I hope to get clarity on whether their actions are legal or not,” he said, adding that he was demanding 1 yen in damages from Meta. “If they have acted illegally, it will be easier for victims of fraud to claim compensation. It will be a big step forward in preventing fraud.”

Maezawa gained international fame when he paid to go to the moon on a future expedition by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. He had previously warned the Japanese government to take action against pranksters.

According to public broadcaster NHK, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is working on plans to crack down on online investment scams that abuse celebrities’ profiles.

Four victims in Japan sued Facebook last month after they were led astray by ads that used photos of celebrities without their permission. The complainants said they were misled by the ads on Facebook that promised a high return on investment with photos of wealthy celebrities such as Maezawa.

Local media in Japan also reported earlier this month that a man in his 70s was defrauded out of an amount of $1.4 million with an online investment scam that used another billionaire’s photo.

NHK also reported on a case where a fake voice of a well-known economic analyst was used to deceive online users.

  • RNews must also regularly warn its readers not to be misled by any investment scam that falsely uses our name and graphics. Click here to read more.