Martin Lewis warns of celebrity scam in letter to Prime Minister

Robbie Williams, Bear Grylls and Holly Willoughby have signed a joint letter, led by Martin Lewis, urging the Prime Minister to include paid fraud reports in the upcoming online security bill.

The consumer champ has long fought fake ads that use his face to entice users and wants tech giants to be held accountable under new laws.

While user-generated scams are covered by the Online Safety Act as well as a variety of areas such as terrorism and child sexual exploitation, paid fraud advertising is not considered.

Mr Lewis has warned that failure to do so will exacerbate the problem as paid advertising fraud will be less regulated compared to free user-generated fraud.

Sir Richard Branson, Phillip Schofield, Dawn French, Lorraine Kelly, Davina McCall, Bradley Walsh, Rob Brydon and Dragon’s Den stars Deborah Meaden, Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones are among the celebrities who put their names on the letter Boris Johnson .

“It’s not up to me to fix this, it’s not up to Richard Branson or Robbie Williams or Deborah Meaden. We’re tearing our names down to rip off vulnerable people, ”Lewis told the PA news agency.

“That’s why we have a government and regulators, and this is an unpunished crime that people must get away with and stop.

“In his case, people like Robbie take care of his fans, that he doesn’t want them to be ripped off because people trust him.”

According to Action Fraud and the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC), founder along with Virgin founder Sir Richard and businesswoman Meaden are among the most common faces in online fraud.

Sir Richard said: “We know that scams have increased dramatically since the pandemic started and it is deeply worrying that people could be made to part with their money by pretending to be me.

“This is a global problem and we are doing everything we can to expose scammers, but we can only do this by working together and making sure the public is protected from these terrifyingly misleading tactics.”

Ms. Meaden said, “For too long, people have been the victims of scammers because they trusted me and others to be behind these false advertisements.

“For us it is not enough to warn people through the press and the media, something has to be done to prevent ads from appearing in the first place.

“Online fraudulent advertising must be regulated and included in the Online Security Act.”

In October, Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries told MPs that she would like to include “paid fraud advertising” in the law, but was prevented from doing so because of “legal advice”.

A government spokesman said a response to the letter will be given “in due course”.

They said, “We realized that online fraud was a huge problem and the government continues to look into additional legislative and non-legislative solutions to combat it.

“We’re looking at the whole topic of online advertising, including whether or not more regulation is needed.”


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