FCA charges TOWIE and Love Island stars for promoting risky investments

  • The so-called ‘influencers’ could face up to two years in prison if convicted

Reality TV stars including TOWIE’s Lauren Goodger and Island’s Biggs Chris will appear in court after being accused of being paid to promote venture investments to their millions of Instagram followers.

The social media influencers – also known as ‘finfluencers’ – have been charged by the Financial Conduct Authority and could face up to two years behind bars if convicted.

Those investigated also include Love Island’s Jamie Clayton, Rebecca Gormley and Eva Zapico, TOWIE’s Yazmin Oukhellou and Geordie Shore’s Scott Timlin.

The FCA says Emmanuel Nwanze, 30, and 33-year-old Holly Thompson provided advice on buying and selling high-risk contracts for difference (CFDs) on Instagram between May 2018 and April 2021, despite not being authorized to do so.

And the watchdog claims Nwanze then paid Chris, Clayton, Goodger, Rebecca Gormley, Oukhellou, Timlin and Zapico to promote the Instagram account to their millions of followers.

TOWIE star Lauren Goodger is accused of being paid to promote venture investments to their millions of Instagram followers
Also facing charges from the Financial Conduct Authority are Biggs Chris and Rebecca Gormley, seen here together at the BEDSA Awards at the Hilton on Park Lane in March 2020.

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Their combined Instagram followers totaled 4.5 million, while Thompson is another Instagram personality also known as Holly Zucchero.

CFDs are described by the FCA as a ‘high-risk investment product used to bet on the price of an asset’. In this case it was a bet on foreign currencies.

Nwanze, 30, has been charged with running an illicit investment scheme and making unlawful financial promotions.

Thompson, 32-year-old Chris, Clayton, 32, 37-year-old Goodger, Gormley, 26, 30-year-old Oukhellou, Timlin, 36, and 25-year-old Zapico each face one count of issuing unauthorized communications of financial promotions.

Nwanze has been charged with running an unauthorized investment scheme and issuing unauthorized financial promotions. which is also punishable by a fine and a prison sentence of up to two years.

The suspects are all due to appear before Westminster magistrates on June 13.

The FCA said the charges are each punishable by a fine and a prison sentence of up to two years.

CFDs are described by the watchdog as ‘risky derivatives’.

Holly Thompson, 33, posts on Instagram under the account name Holly Zucchero
TOWIE reality star Lauren Goodger has 953,000 followers on Instagram
Lauren Goodger is among those due to appear before Westminster magistrates on June 13
The FCA has also charged Jamie Clayton, who appeared on Love Island in 2020
Fellow former Love Island contestant Rebecca Gormley is also among those facing legal action
Love Island contestant Biggs Chris, pictured here at the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards in London in March 2020, is also facing legal action from the City watchdog
Eva Zapico, pictured performing the musical Dreamgirls at the New Wimbledon Theater in May 2022, is also under City Watchdog surveillance
The FCA has also announced charges against TOWIE cast member Yazmin Oukhellou
Geordie Shore’s Scott Timlin is also accused of promoting an account that encouraged people to take out high-risk contracts for difference (CFDs) on Instagram

The FCA has previously said that 80 percent of customers lose money when they invest in CFDs.

They are often ‘highly leveraged’, meaning they use debt to boost returns, the FCA says – but that can lead to investors losing more money than they invested.

In Britain, the regulator has imposed restrictions on how CFDs and similar products can be sold and marketed to retail customers.

The FCA asked anyone who believed they had suffered harm as a result of the scheme to contact its consumer contact centre.

Goodger recently rejoined the long-running series TOWIE for filming more than a decade after she was last a full-time cast member.

Earlier this week she was spotted at the gym for a grueling workout after revealing in an interview that she regrets ever having cosmetic surgery.

In an interview with Closer, she admitted: ‘I wish I’d never had anything, I want it all out. My butt and breasts make me look bigger and cause pain. I want to turn it all around and go back to natural.”

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