Love Island, Only Way is Essex ‘finfluencer’ trial set for 2027

A group of reality TV stars turned social media influencers have appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to charges related to online investment schemes.

The stars, including The Only Way is Essex’s Lauren Goodger, Love Island’s Biggs Chris and Geordie Shore’s Scott Timlin, have been charged with promoting an unauthorised investment scheme to their followers on Instagram.

They face up to two years in prison if convicted.

The trial has been set for 2027, the earliest date Southwark Crown Court could accommodate the case.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought charges against the stars, alleging they were paid to promote a high-risk trading scheme on social media between 2018 and 2021.

Appearing alongside the stars in court were Emmanuel Nwanze and Holly Thompson, who are alleged to have run the scheme.

The FCA alleges that Mr Nwanze and Ms Thompson ran an Instagram account which posted about advice on buying and selling contracts for difference (CFDs) investments without the required authorisation.

These were high-risk investments that involved betting on the price of foreign currencies, the regulator said.

It said 80% of customers who bought into the scheme, promoted using the account @holly_fxtrends, lost money.

Collectively, those on trial have 4.5 million followers on Instagram.

Love Island’s Jamie Clayton, Rebecca Gormley and Eva Zapico and The Only Way is Essex’s Yazmin Oukhellou were also among those charged with the promotion of the scheme.

Mr Nwanze, Ms Thompson and the influencers they allegedly paid have been charged with unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

Eight of the nine defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. Ms Zapico, who did not attend the hearing, has a further plea hearing set for September.

Mr 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.

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