“Hello my little investors.” Common to all kinds of promotions, reality candidate Julien Bert has found his new business: trade. In his videos, the star of the network promises his internet users that he will easily make money by “passive investments”. An idea? Use what is called a “trading robot”, an automated tool that does not require human intervention. So far so good. But later it turned out that the story was a little more complicated.
It all started with a promotional video, posted on Instagram on March 12. In the pictures, a man with 2 million companions appears behind the wheel of a beautiful car or inside his villa with a well-filled wardrobe. All this to announce the launch of his new gem, Wolf’s investment, a few days later. Julien Bert entices her listener as follows: “It’s not about the money you’re going to make or could make, but the money you’re losing watching this video. You will continue to lose if you do not join Wolf’s investment. “
Young and uninformed public
In this new video, shot in the middle of the woods and highlighted by low special effects, Julien Bert continues: “You have a 100% chance of making money with me. I know the times are tough for everyone right now, which is why I won’t mess with your money. Money, believe me, is everywhere and it is real, you just have to trust me “. At first glance, the speech is tempting. But is it legal only when it is aimed at the uninformed public who knew it through reality?
This practice is indeed highly regulated by the Sapin II law, which “introduced a national system in France to ban online advertising of certain financial products that are considered particularly risky,” explains the Financial Markets Authority (AMF). In recent months, the AMF has also repeatedly called for vigilance regarding calls for investment on social media. “The financial skills of these people who present themselves as experts, the honesty and disinterest of these recipes, whose charged nature is not always clearly indicated, should be questioned,” she tells us.
This is especially true for non-professional audiences, targeted by influencers: “if an influencer acts at the request of a financial instrument trading platform, the latter must ensure that all advertising information can be identified as such, accurate, clear and not misleading. »
Contact 20 minutes, For its part, the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) acknowledges the “worrying rise” of deceptive online commercial practices in the field of financial services, “especially by influential people”. During the summer, the Directorate-General for Competition also forced influencer Nabil Benattia-Vergar to pay a € 20,000 fine “for deceptive commercial practices related to the promotion of online trading training on Snapchat”. The regulator also claims that marketing practices of unfair influence are “one of its priority areas of control for 2022”.
But on the part of Julien Bert, the case does not stop at simply communicating a financial product that is in danger. Since the start of our investigation, Julien Bert’s messages about his Wolf’s investment project have completely disappeared from his Instagram page. While his new company appeared in his biography, nothing applies to it anymore, he is just a “co-founder”. This disappearance, as well as the money invested by its subscribers, was especially noticed by the Instagram account “Your stars in reality” – which for more than two years aims to highlight the multiple scams of candidates for reality TV. “Indeed, communications have disappeared and his team only explains that they have been hacked,” points out the founder of the Instagram account.
On the account of “Your stars in reality”, we find victims of various plans set by Julien Bert and other influential people. “I naively believed that his project was sustainable and that he would be able to bring me some money,” Melanie confides. “Being suspicious, I even asked questions to his partner ‘Jérémy’ on the Telegram and I had very convincing answers.” Initially, Mélanie, cautious, injects 15 euros. Seeing a small gain, he adds a new higher amount. “After a few days, the platform told us that the hackers had taken control and that a dedicated page could not be found. They told us that they were also losing money at the moment and that the FBI was doing what was needed. ” Search 20 minutesJulien Bert’s team confirms that “an investigation is underway” and marks itself as “the first victim of this hack”.
Therefore, we use this opportunity to ask him about the dangers of promoting risky financial products on social networks. Internally, we ensure that we are aware that this practice is prohibited by law, while at the same time performing a completely different activity. “If you go to the Telegram channel, you can read: ‘What we offer on this channel is not financial investment advice, but only our personal investment ideas.’ Feel free to follow them or not.As for the disappearance of communication on the project, Julien Bert’s team assures that “nothing has been removed” and that these were just “ephemeral stories” – which does not correspond to our observations, nor those from the order “Your stars in reality “..
“Men lie, numbers don’t”
A little further on, in Dubai Bay, influencers are also very fond of various and varied promotions on social media. Among them we find the Blato couple who recently launched their platform for trading via Telegram. They use what is called “copy trading” which allows identical reproduction of the positions occupied by a more experienced trader. In his videos, shot most of the time on the edge of the pool, Marc Blata sums it up as easily as in this triptych: “Copy, paste, inject”. Except the practice is much riskier than what the influencer suggests.
In 2019, the Autorité des marchés financiers, for example, decided to introduce several tools on these platforms to warn of risks, for example by indicating the percentage of customer losses on this type of product. The figure, which can vary between 70 and 80%, was underlined by AMF Investor Relations Director Claire Castanet, with Boursora. “The vast majority of investors therefore lose money by investing in these products,” the expert added.
To convince the listeners, Mark Blata uses effective and somewhat manipulative expressions: “you are not stupider than anyone else”, “you do not depend on anyone” or even “men lie, not numbers”. A well-thought-out ingredient has been added to this recipe: simple and affordable use of the Telegram trading platform. To register, the only condition is that you have access to this encrypted instant messaging.
Very high minimum deposit
In total there are almost 22,560 visitors to this Telegram account. In addition to weekly reviews of financial products and videos of Marco Blato, the account invites its users to register on the platform via another profile of a woman named “Léa” – who is none other than his partner Nadé Blato. .
One click is enough. With this account, the prospective apprentice merchant can now ask all of these questions before proceeding with registration. “It’s very simple, it’s like depositing money in a bank. They trade with them, our interlocutor explains. There, in this case, you will invest 500 euros, which is the minimum for earnings. The more you invest, the more money you will make. It’s pure copy / paste, you don’t even have to understand. “
But given Léa’s explanations, one element remains particularly disturbing: the mandatory deposit is € 500; an astronomical amount for a young audience targeted by reality TV candidates who are not sufficiently informed about the risk of loss. By introducing ourselves as a student, we question the possibility of less investment. “It’s the minimum capital to be able to make an interesting profit,” replies Nadé Blata, who doesn’t fail to make those whose sum is too high feel guilty. Here are the messages that some of the victims we were able to consult received: “If you want to make a transaction with 200 euros, do it with other traders. I put my hand to cut that you will lose them.
“Deposits that have existed for too long”
Warned by several people in trouble, a group to support the victims of the Blato couple it meets for almost ten days, mostly on Twitter. Testimonies number in the dozens. According to them, the influencer would not be the first to attack. In 2019, for example, he would have already organized a raffle to conquer an apartment in Dubai, before canceling it when the transactions had already taken place. “We told ourselves that this type of abuse has existed for too long, that we need an entity that will justify the victims who did not have the courage to condemn these actions,” explains one of its co-founders.
Because on social networks, a couple of candidates for reality TV point out the winnings won, without actually participating in the trading after that. “They are paid with each payment. Once you pay your deposit, they are no longer interested in winning or losing. It remains an advertisement for a simple platform “, the team believes. All in all, they would get a minimum of $ 600 for each acquisition, or even more depending on the number of applications.
On their Instagram page, this deceptive marketing is clearly visible. Through their luxurious everyday life, the couple makes their fans believe that the store has provided them with this comfort of life … Enough to make you want to get rich with them. “They bet while addressing people who have no skills, no knowledge in this area,” says the victim support group.
Solicited by 20 minutes, Marc and Nadé Blata did not respond to our requests. The couple continues to take advantage of the legal vacuum of the social network Instagram, unlike Snapchat – dedicated to an even younger audience – which has tightened its policy towards financial products. “Advertisements on certain complex financial products, which may include cryptocurrency wallets and trading platforms, require the prior approval of Snap,” the network’s internal rules explained, adding that “promises of guaranteed financial returns on speculative investments” are strictly prohibited. Nothing like this on Instagram so far.
* name changed