'Finfluencers’ charged for promoting unauthorised trading scheme

The FCA has brought charges against nine individuals in relation to an unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme promoted on social media.

Emmanuel Nwanze has been charged with running an unauthorised investment scheme and issuing unauthorised financial promotions. 

The FCA alleges that, between 19 May 2018 and 13 April 2021, Mr Nwanze and Holly Thompson used an Instagram account (@holly_fxtrends) to provide advice on buying and selling contracts for difference (CFDs) when they were not authorised to do so. 

CFDs are a high-risk investment product used to bet on the price of an asset, in this case the price of foreign currencies. 

The FCA also alleges that Mr Nwanze paid Biggs Chris, Jamie Clayton, Lauren Goodger, Rebecca Gormley, Yazmin Oukhellou, Scott Timlin and Eva Zapico to promote the @holly_fxtrends Instagram account to their millions of Instagram followers.

Ms Thompson, Mr Chris, Mr Clayton, Ms Goodger, Ms Gormley, Ms Oukhellou, Mr Timlin and Ms Zapico each face one count of issuing unauthorised communications of financial promotions.

The defendants will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on 13 June 2024.

Anyone who believes they have suffered loss in relation to this matter is encouraged to contact the FCA consumer contact centre on 0800 111 6768 (freephone).

Notes to editors

  1. The defendants’ dates of birth are as follows:
    a. Emmanuel Nwanze (DoB 07/01/1994)
    b. Holly Thompson (also known as Holly Zucchero) (DoB 25/05/1990)
    c. Biggs Chris (DoB 15/05/1992)
    d. Jamie Clayton (DoB 18/11/1991)
    e. Lauren Goodger (DoB 19/09/1986)
    f. Rebecca Gormley (DoB 18/04/1998)
    g. Yazmin Oukhellou (DoB 03/05/1994)
    h. Scott Timlin (DoB 26/04/1988)
    i. Eva Zapico (DoB 23/07/1998)
  2. The combined following of the Instagram accounts of these individuals was 4.5 million. 
  3. Mr Nwanze faces one count of breaching the General Prohibition under Section 19 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, and one count of unauthorised communications of financial promotions under Section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act.
  4. Ms Thompson, Mr Chris, Mr Clayton, Ms Goodger, Ms Gormley, Ms Oukhellou, Mr Timlin and Ms Zapico each face one count of unauthorised communications of financial promotions under Section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
  5. Breaching the General Prohibition is an offence under Sections 19 and 23 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 punishable upon conviction by a fine and/or up to 2 years’ imprisonment.
  6. Communicating unauthorised financial promotions is an offence under Sections 21 and 25 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 punishable upon conviction by a fine and/or up to 2 years’ imprisonment. 
  7. Contracts For Difference (CFDs) are high-risk derivatives. The FCA has previously said that 80% of customers lose money when investing in CFDs because of the risks. They are often highly leveraged, which means they use debt to try and amplify returns, which can result in investors losing more than they invested. In the UK, the FCA has imposed restrictions on how CFDs and CFD-like options can be sold and marketed to retail customers. The FCA has been carrying out work to address consumer harm in the UK in this sector. 
  8. The FCA has published finalised guidance on financial promotions on social media to clarify our expectations for when firms and influencers use social media to communicate financial promotions, and to address emerging consumer harm that we’ve seen arising from use of social media. 
  9. Find out more information about the FCA.