LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Britain is open to legislating to
stop an explosion in scam adverts online being a significant
source of fraud, financial services minister John Glen has told
Victims' groups and campaigners have called for fraudulent
adverts to be incorporated in the government's planned Online
Safety Bill, which currently only covers user-generated content.
"We are very sympathetic to that," Glen told the Treasury
Select Committee. "This is a massive problem. This is a
significant opportunity in the absence of a better solution."
A British record of 754 million pounds ($1 billion) was
stolen in the first six months of this year, up 30% from the
same period in 2020, according to data from banking industry
body UK Finance, and up more than 60% from 2017, when it began
compiling the figures.
Several government departments are involved in trying to
stop online scams, raising concerns among committee members that
solutions are too slow to emerge.
"You're being very good at describing how difficult it all
is, but what are you actually going to be doing about it?" said
lawmaker Angela Eagle.
Glen said the finance ministry was liaising with the
digital, culture, media and sport ministry (DCMS) - which is
also looking at the problem of online scams - to try and find
the best solution.
The Treasury committee has previously told representatives
from Facebook, Google, Amazon and eBay
they needed to do more to combat fraud.
Cybersecurity experts and banks have said Britain has become
a global target for fraud attacks due to relatively light
policing of fraud-related crime, a super-fast payments
infrastructure and use of the world's most widely used language
"This is an absolute priority. I am not satisfied where we
are on this," Glen said, adding that prevention needs to be a
big part of the response.
"The challenge is how can we make effective intervention
that is really going to bear down on this," Glen said.
($1 = 0.7513 pounds)
(Reporting by Iain Withers and Huw Jones, editing by David