Reality TV stars charged in UK crackdown on 'finfluencers'

FILE PHOTO: FCA signage is seen at their head offices in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Reality television stars are among nine people charged in Britain with promoting unauthorised trading schemes on Instagram in the first crackdown on "finfluencers", the UK Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday.

Emmanuel Nwanze, 30, and Holly Thompson, 33, offered advice on trading high-risk foreign currency derivatives over the social media platform between May 2018 and April 2021 without required authorisation from the regulator, the FCA alleged.

The FCA alleges Nwanze also called on reality TV stars and paid Biggs Chris, Jamie Clayton, Lauren Goodger, Rebecca Gormley, Yazmin Oukhellou, Scott Timlin and Eva Zapico, aged 25 to 37, to promote the @holly_fxtrends Instagram account to their millions of followers.

Chris, Clayton and Gormley have starred in reality TV show Love Island while Goodger and Oukhellou are "The Only Way is Essex" stars. They have a combined 4.5 million Instagram followers.

Thompson, Chris, Clayton, Goodger, Gormley, Oukhellou, Timlin and Zapico each face one count of issuing unauthorised communications of financial promotions, an offence that can be punishable by a fine and up to two years in jail.

Nwanze has additionally been charged with running an unauthorised investment scheme. He faces a fine and up to two years in jail for each offence if convicted.

The group will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on June 13.

The FCA asked anyone who believed they had suffered a loss due to the scheme to contact it.

Reuters was not immediately able to identify the group's lawyers.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)