Google and Facebook fail to remove scam adverts

Gabby Fernie

Google and Facebook are failing to take action to remove online scam adverts even after fraud victims report them, consumer watchdog Which? has revealed. 

An online survey of 2,000 UK adults found that a third (34 per cent) of victims that reported a scam on Google said the advert was not taken down, while a quarter (26 per cent) of Facebook users who reported a scam claimed the advert was not removed by the social media site. 

The survey also highlighted low levels of engagement with the scam reporting process. Two in five (43 per cent) of scam victims said they did not report the scam to the platform hosting it. 

On Facebook, the main reason for not reporting was that victims doubted anything would be done about it- this was the response from nearly a third (32 per cent) of victims. Whereas for Google, a third (32 per cent) responded that the biggest reason for not reporting a scam was that they didn't know how to do so. 

Another issue identified by the victims Which? spoke to is that even if fake and fraudulent adverts are successfully taken down they often pop up again under different names.

One victim told Which? that she was she was tricked by a fake 'clearance sale' for shoe shop Clarks, via an ad on Facebook. She paid £85 for two pairs of boots, but instead she received a large box containing a pair of cheap sunglasses.

In response to the findings, Which? has launched a free scam-alert service to warn consumers of the latest tactics used by fraudsters. 

The consumer champion has also launched a Scam Sharing tool to help it gather evidence in its work to protect consumers from fraud. The tool has received more than 2,500 reports since it went live three weeks ago.

"There is no doubt that tech giants, regulators and the government need to go to greater lengths to prevent scams from flourishing" said Consumer Rights Expert at Which?, Adam French. “Online platforms must be given a legal responsibility to identify, remove and prevent fake and fraudulent content on their sites. The case for including scams in the Online Safety Bill is overwhelming and the government needs to act now.”