Ministers plan whether or not to include internet scams in the online security bill
Ministers are preparing to do an about-face and include investment scams in the online security bill.
Hundreds of thousands of potential investors are swindled out of their savings every year by internet advertisements claiming to be from legitimate financial services companies.
The government had previously avoided forcing Internet giants to check the validity of advertisements on their websites.
Online fraud: The Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports maintained that most financial damage will not be included in the online safety bill
But ministers are under pressure to include online scams in the bill to put an end to a “pandemic” of fraud. Sources in Whitehall and City told the Mail that they expected paid ads, hosted by Google, Bing and Facebook, to be included in the bill.
This would force Internet companies to verify whether the advertisements they serve are “real” – and to stop taking money from criminals.
Some of these scammers masquerade as household names, like Aviva or Hargreaves Lansdown, while others use their own names but create a professional looking website.
Savers click ads, thinking they’re investing their money in a legitimate business – and often don’t find out until months later that they’ve in fact given all their money to a criminal.
According to the UK Finance trade association, scammers stole a total of £ 753.9million from UK savers through frauds in the first half of this year – and most of these scams originate online.
Under the leadership of former Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) – which is leading the creation of the bill – has maintained that most of the financial damage does not would not be included.
But Nadine Dorries, who took over last September, would be more receptive to the idea.
Two sources in the banking industry told the Mail that Treasury ministers have also included scams such as investment fraud and SMS scams in the bill and are putting pressure on their counterparts in other government departments.
A source added that treasury ministers “lean on” their ministerial colleagues in DCMS.
A joint committee of MPs and peers released a report last month urging ministers to broaden the scope of upcoming legislation.
DCMS said it would review the committee’s recommendations and should issue a response around February.
The Treasury declined to comment last night.