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In late 2021, Tom Brady starred in an FTX commercial with his then-wife Gisele Bündchen, promoting the “endless possibilities” for cryptocurrency. It was a risky financial investment strategy that was not FDIC-insured, and their endorsement may have gotten many people caught up in the crypto crash of 2022. Now, Ben McKenzie, former star of The OC and author of Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud, is slamming celebs for their irresponsible influencing.
McKenzie, in an interview with TMZ, explained why this was a “misguided” pitch by stars. He shared that it was “totally normal” for celebrities to pitch products, but he also revealed that there was a big difference in selling a “financial product” over things like “soap” or “auto insurance.” He added, “If you are not a licensed financial adviser, you are not supposed to give financial advice. It’s actually worse than that because these are unlicensed, unregulated investments.”
Ben McKenzie. Photo: Rod Lamkey – CNP/MEGA.
The 44-year-old actor compared cryptocurrency to an MLM, or multi-level marketing program, and a “Ponzi scheme.” The Southland star continued, “You need more and more people to come in to keep the scheme going because there is no value there. It’s a valueless investment contract. It makes sense that you need the most famous people in the world to sell to the most people.” Brady and Bündchen, who are now divorced, probably wish they had heeded McKenzie’s advice because they are now named in a class-action lawsuit for their roles in the “massive Ponzi scheme larger than the Madoff scheme,” according to an email to CNN Business by lawyer Adam Moskowitz.
Moskowitz echoes McKenzie’s warnings, and calls the FTX platform endorsed by the A-list former couple, “a house of cards.” The lawsuit might make other Hollywood heavyweights think twice about promoting any type of investment product, especially in the age of heavy social media influence. McKenzie was sounding the warning bells for a long time, but no one listened.
Before you go, click here to see the most important celebrity lawsuits over the past 15 years.
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