It comes amid an explosion of scams during the pandemic. Fraud cost individuals £800m in the six months to the end of August, up from £762m for the prior six months, according to Action Fraud, the national fraud agency.

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of fraud offences rose to almost five million in the year to March, up by a quarter compared with 2019.

Liz Field, of the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association, a trade body, described the drop in spending as “nothing short of reckless” and gave scammers “a free pass to rob the public”.

“I am baffled by the Government’s reluctance to combat online fraud,” she said. “People are losing their life savings in some instances. The damage created by online fraud is even driving some people to consider suicide and we know the figures being reported are just the tip of the iceberg given the amount of under-reporting there…

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