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Amazon, Google and other tech giants pledge action on fraud | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans


  • By Chris Vallance
  • Technology reporter, BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Fraud accounts for about two-fifths of all crime in England and Wales

Fake adverts and romance scams were targeted as technology giants backed an online-fraud charter at a meeting with Home Secretary James Cleverly.

Pledges include measures designed to protect users of online dating services from flirting with fakes.

Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Match Group, Microsoft, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube backed the charter.

Fraud accounts for about two-fifths of all crime in England and Wales.

The charter’s commitments are “voluntary” and not all will apply to every company. They include:

  • being able to quickly identify, flag and remove content and accounts suspected of being involved in fraud
  • enabling dating-platform users to opt to interact only with people who have chosen to verify their identity
  • taking steps to protect people from fraudulent advertisements, including ensuring those for UK regulated financial services come from authorised companies
  • responding to law-enforcement requests detailing criminal users or content as soon as possible
  • quickly sharing information on fraud

And the companies pledged to implement these changes within six months.

The joint fraud taskforce, chaired by Security Minister Tom Tugendhat, would hold the companies to account for delivering the actions, the government said.

The new Online Safety Act, which applies to search engines and user-to-user services such as social-media platforms, also requires companies to mitigate the risks of fraud and, for some, prevent fraudulent advertising.

But the charter, the government says, is designed to drive more targeted action among a focused group of businesses.

‘Breaking point’

“I have every confidence this charter will be an important step forward in our collective efforts to protect the protect the public from fraud,” Mr Tugendhat wrote.

MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis welcomed the agreement, saying: “We are in the midst of an epidemic of scams.

“We will be watching closely to check these companies work hard and work together to make good on their promises.”

Mark Jones, of law firm Payne Hicks Beach, said it was “a great initiative – but given that the criminal justice system is already at breaking point, coupled with a lack of resources to investigate and prosecute, there’s a question mark over whether this will actually result in more prosecutions and convictions.”

‘Devastating’

A charity that helps the victims of crime welcomed the charter and measures aimed at dealing with romance fraud:

“Any steps that make it harder for fraudsters to hide behind fake profiles is good news”, Wayne Stevens, national fraud lead at Victim Support told the BBC.

“We often hear from victims that they want to see dating apps do more to protect users, and we’d encourage people to make use of these verification tools.”

“Romance fraud is a devastating crime, particularly because of the shame and stigma around it. We’ve supported people who have lost life changing amounts of money but are too embarrassed to tell their friends or family what has happened.

“Fraudsters are highly skilled manipulators who often take advantage of people when they are at their lowest such as after a break-up or divorce. What victims go through is a form of emotional abuse, and the psychological impact can be shattering” Mr Stevens said.



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