Government crackdown on cyber scams
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Issued 15 February 2010
The Government is taking the fight to fraidsters, criminals and rogue traders
who use the internet and email to con consumers.
Each year scams cost three million UK consumers £3.5 billion and recent
research from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) shows that email is now the most
common scam approach – 73% of adults have received a scam email in the past
Announcing the formation of a new specialist cyber enforcement team and extra
funding for Trading Standards, Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan said:
“The internet is rapidly transforming the way we shop. It presents massive
opportunities for consumers, but unfortunately it also harbours fraudsters who
can leave consumers upset and out of pocket.
“So as they get more sophisticated, we need to stay one step ahead. Our
investment will help the OFT and Trading Standards to put in place the new
specialist teams, training and technology required to take the fight to these
The Government is investing £4.3 million over three years:
OFT’s team has already set up a fully equipped laboratory with specialist
equipment and is being trained by an international expert. This new
functionality adds to the OFT’s capability across all of its enforcement work
from cartels to consumer protection cases; and new highly trained trading
standards enforcers with specialist equipment will also be placed in every
region of England and in Scotland and Wales.
Online scams the teams will focus on include:
fake products and traders who try to hide their identity to avoid giving
consumer redress; ticket scams where tickets sold for concerts, festivals,
football games and other events are either counterfeit or non-existent; andscam
websites purporting to sell goods that dupe consumers into making what appear to
be bargain purchases, but consumers receive either nothing at all or counterfeit
Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director, said:
“Online consumer protection is a key priority for the OFT. The enforcement
team will be looking at the activities of a wide range of commercial websites
and taking action in cases where consumers’ rights are being abused.
“Ultimately, giving the public even greater confidence to shop online is what
drives the activities of our enforcement team.
TSI’s chief executive Ron Gainsford said:
“I am delighted to see this investment in trading standards. The profession
has invaluable skills and experience fighting scams in the non-virtual world
that will now be put to excellent use in the cyber teams.
“We want to see shoppers to be able to be as confident online, shopping cross
border in the EU, as they are in bricks and mortar shops – there is a real
benefit for businesses and consumers alike to be unlocked.
“These specialist teams will help us be a modern regulatory service that can
handle the increasingly complex threats and demands of the online market, which
is fundamental to consumer and business protection, and renewed prosperity.”
The OFT will co-ordinate which enforcer is best placed to take action on a
particular issue and will focus on the most serious cyber scams. Cases will
continue to be passed to the Police, Serious and Organised Crime Agency and
Companies Investigations Branch when appropriate.
Consumers who suspect they are the victim of an online scam should contact
Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk . Consumer
Direct can provide advice and pass on complaints and information to Trading
Standards and the OFT.
1. The Government’s Digital Britain Report was published on 16 June 2009. The
Report highlighted the need to ensure consumers are protected and confident when
2. Last July the Government’s Consumer White Paper announced a range of
actions designed to give consumers a better deal. It set out plans to: establish
a new internet enforcement team; develop a long-term national strategy to
further improve the co-ordination between the OFT, Trading Standards and other
enforcement agencies such as the Police; and set up a new easy to use complaints
register for online scams. The strategy and register will both be in place by
the end of 2010.
3. The Office of Fair Trading estimates that around 3 million UK consumers
lose a total of £3.5billion each year.
4. Recognising the challenges of online crime the Government has set up the
National Fraud Authority, and through the City of London Police has established
the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) and the National Fraud Intelligence
Bureau to tackle the most serious and harmful fraud, including mass marketed
fraud. The Government has also launched the Police Central eCrime Unit within
the Metropolitan Police to tackle large scale internet crime, including internet
5. The East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) will manage the
coordination of this work for Trading Standards, on behalf of BIS, together with
the Scambusters, East of England Trading Standards Association, London Trading
Standards Association & Trading Standards South East Ltd (SELT).
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-02-15 15:21:25 in Computer Articles