UK financial watchdog spends $1.62 mln fighting social media scams

·1 min read

By Huw Jones

LONDON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Britain's financial markets watchdog has spent 1.2 million pounds ($1.62 million) over three years in an effort to stem the rising tide of financial scams on social media.

A British record of 754 million pounds was stolen in the first six months of 2021, up 30% from the same period in 2020, according to data from banking industry body UK Finance, and up more than 60% from 2017, when it began compiling the figures.

Online adverts for scams have rocketed during the coronavirus pandemic as people turn to social media more frequently.

The Financial Conduct Authority's CEO, Nikhil Rathi, told parliament's Treasury Select Committee in a letter that the cash was spent on Google, Twitter and Meta, which includes Facebook and Instagram, to warn against scam adverts on those platforms.

"In December 2021, Google offered the FCA $3 million in advertising credits to be spent on its Google Ads and YouTube platforms, which we are considering how to use most effectively," Rathi said in the letter made available to the media.

"Our discussions with Google over recent months have also resulted in positive changes to Google's policies for verifying potential advertisers.

The bill does not include spending on other activities and campaigns against online scams through channels such as those run by Microsoft, Snapchat and TikTok, Rathi said.

The FCA wants the government to include new powers for the watchdog to regulate financial promotions online in a new Online Safety Bill. ($1 = 0.7419 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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