Internet giants like Facebook and Google must act now to stem the scourge of fraudulent websites, top city chiefs say
Major city institutions are urging ministers to tackle online financial frauds amid concerns that criminals are using Facebook and Google to post fraudulent ads with impunity.
In a letter to Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden, groups representing Britain’s largest banks, insurers and asset managers have warned that victims are losing “life-changing” sums because internet giants fail to validate digital ads.
This has led to a massive increase in “trademark cloning” scams, with criminals impersonating legitimate companies to trick victims into handing over their savings, they said.
Fraud sites: Major city institutions have warned that victims are losing “life-changing” sums as internet giants fail to validate digital ads
Scam artists even pretended to be household names like Lloyds Bank, HSBC, Aviva, M&G, and Hargreaves Lansdown.
The signatories of the letter claimed that the fake ads were brandished by Google and Facebook without verifying their authenticity.
They said the internet giants should have a legal obligation to prevent scammers from misusing ad platforms and for this to be included in the upcoming Internet damage bill.
Currently, the legislation does not cover financial fraud, which is largely focused on child safety, bullying and extremist content.
More than £ 78 million was lost in trademark clone scams last year – or an average of £ 45,000 per victim – according to Action Fraud.
Victims are often elderly people nearing or retiring, and devastating losses can mean that they are forced to work longer or sell their homes.
Calls to deal with the fake ads were backed by Allison Rose, president of Natwest, as well as Anne Boden, chair of Starling Bank.
The message – seen by mail – was sent by the heads of industry groups The City UK, The Investment Association, Association of British Insurers, Innovate Finance, Pension and Lifetime Savings Association, as well as City of London Corporation and The City of London Police Board.
The city’s Financial Supervisory Authority, the Financial Supervisory Authority, made a “ clear recommendation ” to ministers to include digital fraud in the online damages bill, while members of parliament on Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee supported doing so.
Despite much pressure, ministers said the bill was not the place to take measures to tackle fraudulent ads.
Instead, they are consulting a “Internet Advertising Program” that is looking at new ways to organize it.