Love Island finfluencers deny part in unauthorised Instagram trading scheme

Love Island ‘finfluencers’ deny part in unauthorised Instagram trading scheme

Three former Love Island stars who became social media “finfluencers” have pleaded not guilty to plugging an unauthorised investment scheme.

Biggs Chris, 32, Jamie Clayton, 32 and Rebecca Gormley, 26, pushed the unsanctioned venture to their Instagram followers, it is alleged.

The trio appeared side by side in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) charged nine influencers, including former Geordie Shore and The Only Way Is Essex stars, with promoting the scheme which was run by 30-year-old Emmanuel Nwanze.

Nwanze, alongside Holly Thompson, 34, used the Instagram account, @holly_fx trends, to advise on buying and selling contracts for difference (CFDs) when they were not authorised to do so between 2018 and 2021, it is alleged.

The watchdog said CFDs were high-risk investments, with 80% of customers losing money.

Nwanze paid Chris, Clayton, and Gormley to promote the account to their followers in 2020, prosecutors say.

He also paid Towie’s Lauren Goodger, 37, and Yazmin Oukhellou, 30, Love Island’s Eva Zapico, 25, and Geordie Shore’s Scott Timlin, 36, the FCA said.

The combined following of their Instagram accounts was 4.5 million, the FCA said.

Nwanze, Timlin and Thompson pleaded not guilty at a previous hearing.

Each of the defendants is charged with one count of issuing unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

They face up to two years in prison if convicted.

Kerry Spence, partner at Hodge Jones & Allen who represents Gormley and Chris, said: “My clients strongly protest their innocence and look forward to clearing their names in court of these spurious charges.”

Nwanze also faces one count of breaching a general prohibition under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, which prohibits people from carrying out regulated activities in the UK unless they are authorised to do so.

A trial preparation hearing has been set for July 11 at Southwark Crown Court and the nine defendants have been granted unconditional bail until this date.

Anyone who believes they have suffered loss over the scheme should contact the FCA, the regulator said.

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