A web document for a provider of 'trading systems', Waverley Media, seen on 23 April 2019, promoted a scheme named 'Daisho-Lite'. The document featured text which stated "a handful of disgruntled competitors and serial complainers who can't be bothered to follow instructions have been hard at work on a smear campaign saying it doesn't work!! REALLY? Tell that to Christopher S of Cambridge who tells me he's been making between £9,000 to £10,000 per month with the methods in this system and has consistently been doing so for 12 months! Or Steve Richardson of Bury who says he's happily making between £2,000 and £3,000 a month using the same methods very much on a part time basis!". Further text stated "The core methods of the hugely popular Daisho System, yes the one with the built in 'fail-safe' that actually helps protect you from losing, has been incorporated into DAISHO-LITE and is again available for a MASSIVELY REDUCED PRICE" and "In fact, once you truly 'get it', it's like having 'CASH ON TAP' because you always know you can generate an income whenever you need it without the fear of losing anything in the process!".
IssueThe complainant, who believed the system carried a risk of losing money because it required users to place bets on an online betting exchange platform, challenged whether the earnings claims were misleading and could be substantiated.
Waverley Media Ltd provided us with copies of the testimonials of the two customers referred to in the ad. They said that they did not make any earnings claims and were not telling consumers that they would make the same amount as those customers, rather they were reporting that two of their customers had told them what they had managed to achieve. Waverley Media said they used language throughout the ad which made it clear that they were reporting what they had been told, such as “he tells us”, “I’m not for one minute suggesting you will get the same results as anybody else” and “please remember that your results will vary depending on how well you follow the system and how much effort you put in”. Waverley Media said that the ad twice warned customers of the risk involved if their methods were not followed correctly and that they did not claim there was no risk of losing money. They said the aim of the system was to start with a small bank of money (such as £300) and 5-10% of that bank is placed on each ‘trade’. As the bank grew larger, larger sums of money were placed which meant that profits became exponentially larger. They said they had always been clear that customers needed to ‘trade’ with a large bank in order to obtain larger monthly profits and suggested in the ad that they would likely wait until seven months before withdrawing any cash. They said that it was explained in the ad itself how the methods worked by giving hypothetical examples.
The ASA understood that the ‘Daisho-Lite’ system offered in the ad was a series of methods, ideas and tutorials designed to teach customers how to place bets on sporting events, such as football matches, and earn profit. The system required that a number of bets be placed on a certain match on an online betting exchange platform against other customers as opposed to the bookmaker. Those bets included ‘back’ and ‘lay’ bets, meaning they were placed both on and against a certain outcome, and required customers to place more than one type of bet, such as the number of goals scored and the final score of a football match. The expectation was that the amounts generated from those bets that won would outweigh the money lost, thus making a profit.
The ad made numerous references to two customers, Steve Richardson and Christopher S, who it claimed had won between £2,000 and £3,000 a month and £9,000 and £10,000 a month respectively using the system. The ad referred to Christopher S’s winnings, for example, a total of 11 times throughout and we noted that one of those references stated “…like Christopher S, you could be telling us that you’re also making £9,000 and £10,000 tax-free”.
The language used in the ad was informal and we noted that it directly addressed the reader throughout, with claims such as “YOU CAN DISCOVER HOW TO ENJOY THE THRILLS OF WINNING SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNTS WITHOUT THE FEAR OF LOSING!” and “There’s no need to watch football or even like the game, in fact you don’t need to have any interest in it whatsoever in order to be regularly pumping decent cash into your bank account every week!!!”. We also noted the claim “It can easily be started with a bank of as little as £300 to £1,000” and hypothetical examples were given where large sums of money were generated over a period of weeks from each of those bank account sizes. We considered that made the ad highly persuasive and meant that consumers would readily be able to identify with the circumstances under which those referenced in the ad had first begun using the product.
Because of the powerful nature by which the ad invited readers to buy the product and pushed the narrative that it was easy to generate significant profit, we considered that consumers would expect that they were able to make large sums of money. That message was furthered by claims such as “In fact, once you truly ‘get it’, it’s like having ‘CASH ON TAP’ because you always know you can generate an income whenever you need it without fear of losing anything in the process!”. We noted Waverley Media’s comments that they were not telling customers that they would generate the amounts claimed, that they explained the results would vary depending on a number of factors and that they provided warnings throughout. However, we did not consider that to override the overall impression created that it was likely that consumers could generate such significant amounts of money. We therefore expected Waverley Media to be able to demonstrate that consumers were likely to be able to generate the amounts quoted.
We understood from the testimonials provided that customers Steve Richardson and Christopher S referred to having a ‘bank size’, the amount in their betting account used to place bets, of £3,000 and £10,000, which was mentioned only at the end of the ad where copies of the testimonials were displayed. We considered the amount of money being used to generate those winnings was a significant piece of information that should have been made clearer to consumers, particularly given the length of the ad and the number of times their winnings were referred to. In addition, we did not consider the testimonials of two customers to be sufficient to demonstrate that consumers were likely to be able to generate such significant amounts of profit. There was also a considerable risk of losing money in the process and we considered that with claims such as “yes the one with the built-in failsafe” and “you can effectively start with a considerably smaller bank and then built it up slowly without the fear of it ever being wiped out!!” played down the significance of that risk.
In light of that, we considered that the earnings claims in the ad had not been substantiated and we therefore concluded that they were misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Waverley Media to ensure that they did not imply that significant amounts of money were likely to be generated through use of their product when that was not the case.