‘Felt as if I’d been hit by a bus’ Scam warning as victims lose inheritance to fraudsters
Rip Off Britain: Victim emotional over online scam
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Ms Hopkin asked her lifelong friend Mr Anderson to help her invest her inheritance money so that she would be kept comfortable in her old age and be able to give some to her children. However, on his search for the best investment opportunities, he clicked on a fixed rate bonds comparison website that was advertised by Google but run by fraudsters.
He said: “I felt as if I’d been hit by a bus. We’ve been scammed.”
After filling in his personal details on a form provided by the website, he was contacted by the scammers.
They posed as different banks, giving their best interest deals and solid investment opportunities.
Mr Anderson said: “I started asking them a number of questions … technical, and tax questions … they answered them perfect, like they were trained financial people.”
Convinced it was real, Mr Anderson spread Ms Hopkin’s money between the different banks.
It wasn’t until he contacted one of the real banks that he realised he had been scammed by trained fraudsters and Ms Hopkin’s money was gone.
Ms Hopkin said: “I felt it was much worse for him than it was for me.
“I was saying to myself the whole time, look this is only money. It’s not important compared to my friendship.”
Mr Anderson and Ms Hopkin tried to get the money back via her bank but unfortunately, they have not been able to.
Mr Anderson was a victim of what’s called a Clone firm scam.
In this type of scam, fraudsters copy the name, address, and website of genuine companies to fool would be investors.
Mr Anderson explained he would have never been sucked in if the initial advert didn’t appear on Google.
He said: “Google should do more checks on these websites and not just take their money and advertise.”
Google representatives spoke to Rip Off Britain and explained that they had taken appropriate action against the advertisers that Mr Anderson and Ms Hopkin were tricked by.
Google accepted that the problem of scam financial ads was an increasing issue but said it has strict policy governing the ads it hosts and enforces them vigorously.
They also stressed they were doing lots of things to combat these scam ads including working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to bring in new restrictions, taking action against any new names that are added to the FCA warning list.
They are also getting any financial service advertisers to complete a business operations verification programme.
Technology expert David McClelland commented on the issue and said: “If Google cannot be trusted that the ads they place are verified then it shouldn’t be allowed to serve those adverts.
“It’s as simple as that.
“It should be held accountable because these adverts that Google are making money out of is ruining people’s lives.”
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