United Kingdom

Aviva backs calls for Government crackdown on financial fraud

Aviva has backed calls for a Government crackdown on financial fraud after its brand was hijacked by criminals. 

At least 27 fake websites were set up in Aviva's name to dupe unsuspecting victims into handing over cash. 

The £16billion pension giant warned that shutting down the scammer websites is like playing 'whack-a-mole' under the current rules. 

Finger on the pulse: Aviva is demanding internet companies be held to account as part of the forthcoming Online Safety Bill

It demanded internet companies be held to account as part of the forthcoming Online Safety Bill. There is widespread anger that financial fraud has been left out of the flagship legislation. 

The Mail's Stamp Out Investment Fraud campaign, launched last week, demands web giants are made legally responsible for removing scams from their platforms. 

Aviva UK financial crime risk director Paul Pisano said: 'We believe the Online Safety Bill presents an opportunity to protect financial services consumers. 

'That would mean the online publisher would have to ensure that any financial promotion which they communicate has first been approved by an authorised person. Our concern is centred on the sharp practices employed by the advertisers, which can mislead consumers and put them at risk of financial harm.' 

Last year Aviva's Peter Hazelwood told MPs that web giants were acting as both 'enablers' and 'accelerants' of online investment fraud. 

Platforms profit from hosting ads while letting criminals 'slip through the net', he said, adding that it usually took three weeks to get scams removed. 

'It is like a whack-a-mole approach,' Hazelwood told the Commons work and pensions committee. 

Natwest has also backed the Mail's campaign. Retail banking chief David Lindberg said: 'Scammers commit crimes that impact across the UK. 

'We need to bring a full range of tools to bear on them – including tougher legislation.'

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