Gina Rinehart, executive chairman of Hancock Prospecting, has penned an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, accusing him of doing nothing to stop scammers using her name and likeness to “fraudulently solicit money from vulnerable people”.
Rinehart said that in the “last few weeks” she had seen “more than 750 scams on Facebook, as opposed to only one on Twitter”.
“I’d appreciate more efforts taken in attempting to address these issues. Greater action is needed to stop scams and intentionally fraudulent content from being available and advertised to,” she continued.
“Meta needs to do more [as] innocent Australians are falling victim to job scams through Facebook”.
Rinehart wrote the letter on behalf of several other prominent Australians including entrepreneur Dick Smith and real estate developer Harry Triguboff.
The business people’s AI-generated likenesses are being used to encourage people to send money to or invest in business ventures such as cryptocurrencies and diet techniques.
The letter, dated 9 November, also cited examples of fraudsters pretending to be media personalities such as Tracy Grimshaw, host of Current Affair, and Today host Karl Stefanovic.
“According to the National Anti Scams Centre, Australians reported a record $3.1 billion lost to scams in 2022. This represents an 80 per cent increase from the year before. The NASC also estimates that about 80 per cent of all scams reported include some form of impersonation of a legitimate entity. This has happened using me hundreds of times, and my staff can’t keep up; there are so many”, added Rinehart.
“Beyond the tangible losses of billions of dollars, the emotional and psychological toll is huge. Despite our staff’s concerted efforts to report such content, there remains an alarming persistence of scams, and new ones increasingly emerge”.
Rinehart described the letter as a “last-straw act” and followed Meta’s apparent failure to respond or act on the “official complaints” lodged with the tech company by her staff over a number of months.
A Meta spokesperson told B&T:
“Scammers present a challenge in any environment, including social media. Meta is constantly tackling scams through a combination of technology, such as new machine learning techniques and specially trained reviewers, to identify content and accounts that violate our policies. We encourage people to use our in-app reporting tools when they see any suspicious activity. We encourage those who have fallen victim to scams to reach out to their local law enforcement agency”.
Rinehart is no stranger to throwing her weight — and significant fortune around in the Australian business scene. In 2015, it was announced that she would be suing the producers of the Nine mini-series House Of Hancock, alleging that the content was misleading and deceptive. In 2017, the network agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the mining magnate.
Last year, she pulled her sponsorship funds from Netball Australia after Noongar woman and Diamonds player Donnell Wallam expressed her objections to play with Hancock Prospecting’s logo on her uniform after Rinehart’s father publicly supported sterilisation as a solution to what was referred to at the time as “the Aboriginal problem”. Reinhart has never publicly commented on her father’s views.
A week later, Netball Australia announced a $15 million deal with Visit Victoria.