Which? magazine has warned that governments, banks and tech groups must do more to prevent people being defrauded online.
The consumer group has said that the current ‘whack a mole’ approach is no longer working in stopping scams from appearing on the internet.
A survey carried out by the magazine found that 39 per cent of 200 investment scam victims were targeted by email, search engine and adverts found on social media.
“The financial strain of the last year and record low saving rates are pushing more people than ever to look for investments online, just as fraudsters are looking to exploit the uncertainty and confusion caused by the coronavirus crisis, resulting in a perfect storm for scams,” head of money at Which? Gareth Shaw said.
Its investigation found that fake adverts are not being taken down quick enough despite warnings from the public that they are fraudulent.
One 83-year-old lost £70,000 to clones of a legitimate investment firm when searching for better savings rates online, while the consumer watchdog reported that some £3,234 is being lost to scams every minute in the UK.
Google responded to the report stating: “Protecting consumers and credible businesses operating in the financial sector is a priority for us, which merits careful rules and enforcement.
“We take dishonest business practices and misleading ads very seriously and consider them to be a violation of our policies and recently updated our policies to enable verification of businesses promoting financial services in the UK.
“When ads do not comply with our policies, we take immediate action to remove them.”
Which? advises consumers to ignore unexpected offers, check the FCA warning list and the financial services register to prevent them being defrauded.