Resistance over government failure to stop online scams

MPs accuse government of not including financial scams in online security law veiligheids

MPs have criticized the government for failing to include financial scams in its online security law.

Tory Mel Stride, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, said it was “disappointing” that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden ignored calls from banks, regulators, consumer groups and even the Bank of England to help end internet conflicts.

The Treasury Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee, led by Labor MP Stephen Timms, have warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson in writing that the government’s inaction will cause “major financial losses to the public.”

Lurking: Online security law rules out critical issue of online financial fraud — an omission campaigners say is a grave mistake

The Online Safety Act aims to tackle Internet content that harms users, especially children, and tackle issues such as child safety, bullying and extremist content.

But it excludes the crucial issue of online financial fraud — an omission that campaigners say is a grave mistake.

The problem has been raised by Mail’s Stamp Out Investment Fraud campaign, which calls for such scams to be included in the Online Safety Bill, and internet platforms legally responsible for monitoring the ads and websites they host, are not fraudulent. Every month Britons are scammed out of millions of pounds by falling for investment scams – often advertised on platforms such as Google, Bing and Facebook.

Sometimes these ads claim to be from a legitimate company, such as Aviva or Hargreaves Lansdown, while others pretend to be a professional looking company but offer fraudulent investment products.

This kind of scam has escalated during the pandemic as more people have tried to invest their money online.

The number of cases reported to Action Fraud rose to 20,989 in the year to April, a 50 per cent increase from the previous year as savers said they lost a shocking £535 million.

But so far, Dowden has refused to reconsider the bill.

Stride said: “It is very disappointing that the government has not yet chosen to include fraudulent advertising in the Online Safety Bill.

“Without decisive action, innocent consumers will continue to be defrauded on a large scale.” Rocio Concha, policy director at consumer group Which?, said: “The arguments for including fraud enabled through online advertising in the online security law are overwhelming. The government must not miss the opportunity to intervene now.’