Martin Lewis appeared close to tears as he described how "lives are being destroyed" by scam adverts online.

The founder and chair of MoneySavingExpert told MPs and peers how fraudsters have been using his image to deceive vulnerable people into investing in fake moneymaking schemes.

Speaking to the joint committee of the draft Online Safety Bill – proposed legislation aimed at tackling harmful content on the internet – Mr Lewis said a woman with bladder cancer lost tens of thousands of pounds earmarked for her granddaughter's wedding after investing in a venture purportedly endorsed by him.

"She said 'It's Martin sponsoring it, it must be alright'," he said. "If you wonder why I get so passionate, I have spent 20 years trying to do consumer protection work and I see people's lives being destroyed [by scam adverts]."

Mr Lewis is campaigning for scams to be included in the Online Safety Bill, which covers user-generated content but not paid-for adverts.

He said it was "ridiculous" the draft legislation did not include this protection, adding: "If Boris Johnson was as trusted as me so that he appeared in scam adverts as often as I do, I wouldn't be having this because the first thing that would have been in this bill is regulation of scam adverts."

In May, a National Cyber Security Centre report found that Mr Lewis and Sir Richard Branson are the celebrities whose names are used most in fake endorsement scams.

The impact on victims' mental health was cited as a key reason to address the "disease" of scams in the bill.

Mr Lewis said: "People consider taking their own lives because they blame themselves for the scams they have fallen to. Well, I do not blame them.

"I blame regulators and legislators who do not put enough practices in place. I blame online platforms who do not deny publicity to the people doing the adverts. And, of course, I blame the criminals themselves."

In a digital age there are numerous ways for scammers to gain access to your personal information, and even bank accounts, online.

However, there are ways you can protect yourself. The newly-formed Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership have outlined some ways below:

For further support and advice on scams, whether it's rogue traders, romantic scams, scam mail, phone calls, texts or emails, visit the Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk or call 03454 04 05 06. 

He added: "We need to stop them getting access to vulnerable people and that's what this bill can do".

The draft Online Safety Bill would see a duty of care placed on social media companies to ensure users are protected from harms, including terrorism, child sexual exploitation and disinformation.

If enacted into law, any firm that fails to comply with the rules could then be issued by Ofcom with a fine of up to £18m or 10% of global turnover, whichever is higher.

The joint committee will continue to hear from witnesses over the next few weeks, including Commander Clinton Blackburn of the City of London Police and Facebook whistleblowers Frances Haugen and Sophie Zhang.

Its report is due by December 10.

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