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Five Arrested Over Fake Government Websites

fake government websites
Five people have been arrested over fake Government websites created to con people out of money.

People trying to order official documents such as passports and car tax discs have fallen victim to fraudsters who have mocked up sites.

Almost 6,000 complaints about the sites have been made to Citizens Advice – now five people have been arrested under the Fraud Act and consumer protection laws.

They are now on police bail.

Lord Harris, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB), said his team is “making it as difficult as possible for these online hoaxers to operate”.

Lord Harris said: “We have been working with search engines such as Google and Bing to remove adverts from online search results and we continue to gather intelligence across the country to help tackle this issue.

“We urge you to avoid unofficial websites which could leave you out of pocket or at risk of identity theft. Only use the GOV.UK website to find Government services. If you come across copycat websites, report them to Citizens Advice.”

The fraudsters use URLs with words such as govuk and directgov in them, to appear similar to the official sites.

Martin Lewis, creator of the consumer financial advice site MoneySavingExpert, urged people to go directly to the official Government site, rather than using search engines.

He said: “Copycat websites disguise themselves as the real thing, but charge you for a useless service. I’ve lost count of the number of people who contact me upset and want to know how to get their cash back.”

Consumer Affairs minister Jo Swinson said: “It’s great that it’s becoming easier and more common to use the internet to order official documents such as passports or tax discs, but people should be aware of rogue websites that are out there trying to exploit them.”