RICH tech giants should be forced to PAY victims of heartless scammers running wild on their sites, the Government has been told.
Flimsy laws at present "make it easy" for fraudsters to rip people off using dodgy adverts on platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, MPs said.
The Treasury Committee warned that con tricks and economic crime have surged at an "alarming rate".
They think tech firms will take the problem seriously if they had to reimburse anyone duped into parting with their cash.
It comes as people lost record amounts during the pandemic, as vicious tricksters jumped on fears around testing, lockdown, jabs and even postal deliveries.
Overall fraud crime rose by 36% last year, with more than 420,000 offences recorded, according to Action Fraud.
Angela McLaren, Assistant Commissioner for Economic and Cybercrime at the City of London Police said between 2019 and 2020 alone social media featured in more than 39,000 crime reports, resulting in losses of £120 million.
"If we look at the types of fraud that are most emergent at the moment, the vast majority of them will rely on some form of social media platform," she told MPs.
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"That applies whether it’s romance fraud, investment fraud or
"The consistent theme through all these frauds is, obviously, the use of social networking and social media sites."
Facebook and others were also slammed for profiting from adverts by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) designed to make people aware of scams.
While tech firms offered the regulator some free advertising credits, Google still pocketed more than £690,000 from the FCA, while Facebook-owner Meta earned over £364,000 and Twitter took home £161,000.
"We would prefer that these ads were not published in the first place, to be really frank," said Mark Steward, the FCA's director of enforcement.
"The irony of us having to pay social media to publish warnings about advertising that they are receiving money from is not lost on us."
How to protect yourself from fraud
USE the following tips to protect yourself from fraudsters.
- Keep your social media accounts private – Think twice before you your share details – in particular your full date of birth, address and contacts details – all of this information can be useful to fraudsters.
- Deactivate and delete old social media profiles – Keep track of your digital footprint. If a profile was created 10 years ago, there may be personal information currently available for a fraudster to use that you’re are not aware of or you have forgotten about.
- Password protect your devices– Keep passwords complex by picking three random words, such as roverducklemon and add or split them with symbols, numbers and capitals.
- Install anti-virus software on your laptop and personal devices and keep it up to date – This will make it harder for fraudsters to access your data in the first place.
- Take care on public Wi-Fi– Fraudsters can hack or mimic them. If you’re using one, avoid accessing sensitive apps, such as mobile banking.
- Think about your offline information too – Always redirect your post when you move home and make sure your letter or mailbox is secure.
Google has since offered £2.2millon in free credits, on top of another £1.5million to support industry awareness.
Others have been urged to "follow Google's example" and pay the regulator back.
The wide-ranging report also recommended that there should be proper regulation for cryptocurrencies to ward off fraud and money laundering.
A rep for Facebook-owner Meta said: "Promoting financial scams is against our policies and we're dedicating significant resources to tackling this industry-wide issue on and off our platforms."
In other news, Apple has revealed a bunch of new emoji for iPhone, including a pregnant man and two saucy symbols.
Experts have warned that future space launches could be jeopardised if "stupid" regimes like Russia don't stop blasting the skies creating debris.
And the most popular phone since the millennium has been unveiled, with many shocked to find out it's not an iPhone.
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