A coalition of organisations including City of London police and the consumer body Which? is demanding the government make tech giants such as Google and Facebook legally responsible for fake and fraudulent adverts.

In a joint letter to the home secretary, Priti Patel, the 17 organisations have urged ministers to force search engines and social media sites to vet all adverts they publish to protect the public from an “avalanche” of scams involving investments and other financial offers.

They want the government to include online scams in its proposed online safety bill, which is expected to be presented to parliament in the Queen’s speech on 11 May.

Scams and fraud have escalated over the past year as locked-down consumers spent more time online. Some end up losing money after using search engines to research investments at a time of record-low interest rates, while others have been tricked by adverts on social media sites. Many scams involve…

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