LONDON, May 16 — Nine people have been charged in Britain for promoting unauthorised foreign exchange trading schemes on Instagram in the first crackdown on “finfluencers”, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said today.

Emmanuel Nwanze, 30, and 33-year-old Holly Thompson offered advice on buying and selling high-risk contracts for difference (CFDs) over the social media platform between May 2018 and April 2021, although they were not authorised to do so, the regulator alleged.

The FCA alleges Nwanze then paid Biggs Chris, Jamie Clayton, Lauren Goodger, Rebecca Gormley, Yazmin Oukhellou, Scott Timlin and Eva Zapico, aged between 25 and 37, to promote the Instagram account to their millions of followers.

Their combined Instagram followers totalled 4.5 million.

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

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

They will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 13.

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

Reuters was not immediately able to identify the individuals’ lawyers. — Reuters