Banking sector teams up with influencers to warn against investment fraud

Banking federation Febelfin has teamed up with two Belgian influencers to launch a campaign warning young people to be wary of investments they see promoted on social media.

In recent weeks, Jonatan Medart has published videos that appear to show him splashing out on a luxury lifestyle in Dubai, giving the impression that he was successfully investing in cryptocurrencies. 

He encouraged his followers to follow his financial advice in a Telegram group while posing on a luxury yacht. In doing so, he implied that his followers could quickly become rich too. 

Banking federation Febelfin has now said that this was part of an awareness campaign. “The yacht was rented and the promises are as false as the tips from the many scammers active on social media,” the federation said in a press release. 

Medart and fellow influencer Sami Farhat are publishing a series of videos on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube encouraging their followers to join a private group on Telegram with the aim of making money quickly through investing in cryptocurrencies.

“In two weeks, Sami and Jonatan attracted more than 500 people to the Telegram group, people who were genuinely interested in investment advice from their online heroes,” said Febelfin CEO Karel Baert. 

“Finfluencers” promise quick and easy money by offering fictitious or worthless shares or financial products. They gain their followers’ trust by publishing testimonials praising their services. However, once the money has been invested, it disappears. 

"Younger investors are more likely to seek their information on social media … They are particularly vulnerable to false advice"

According to data from FSMA, the financial sector regulator, Belgian consumers lost more than 15 million euros to fraudulent trading platforms last year.

A Febelfin survey shows that 44 per cent of Belgians invest in financial products other than savings accounts. The proportion among young investors is 31 per cent. The study also shows that 23 per cent of young investors invest in cryptocurrencies, although 72 per cent say they have insufficient or no knowledge about how cryptocurrencies work.

“Younger investors are more likely to seek their information on social media and may therefore be more easily influenced by influencers or celebrities. They are particularly vulnerable to false advice,” Febelfin said. 


Jonatan Medart pictured at the Gala van de Gouden K's award show, April 2022 © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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