Scammers and this £1.7bn a year fraud demands tougher action – The Yorkshire Post says

IT is a coincidence of timing that the proposed Online Safety Bill is due to feature in next week’s Queen’s Speech when so many people are being targeted by digital scammers, some more sophisticated than others, on an increasingly frequent basis.

Yet what the public, and particularly the elderly want to know, is how the Government intends to use its proposed new powers to identify and prosecute the unscrupulous fraudsters and criminals behind these financial cons that have obtained at least £1.7bn from unwitting victims in the past year alone.

One of the more recent hoaxes is elaborate text messages, purporting to be from the Royal Mail, asking recipients to pay a small sum for excess postage.

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It is, however, a deliberate ruse to obtain personal information and bank details, ignoring the common sense fact – and which can be so easily overlooked – that postal staff will knock on the door, or leave if a card, if they need reimbursement because they have no means of knowing the phone numbers of households on their delivery round.

An Online Safety Bill is due to feature in the Queen's Speech next week.

Equally it is exasperating – and bordering on the criminal – that online platforms are not doing enough to check the authenticity of so-called firms posting ‘too good to be true’ offers on websites and then resist calls to remove those adverts, and links, that have been proven to be fraudulent.

Yes, it is going to be very difficult for the police, and others, to stay one step ahead of the scammers – but it is in the public interest to act decisively and the test of the forthcoming Online Safety Bill is whether it proves to be any sort of deterrent or not.

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What more can be done to combat scammers?