Imagine there was a fake bank branch in your high street, which was conning investors out of their life savings with non-existent products. You’d report it to the police and trading standards, and its owners would be arrested.

Now imagine that the same fake bank was a digital-only entity, selling its wares on the world’s biggest online marketplace visited by 3.5 billion customers a day. Its owners could conceal their identities by using fake names, multiple company identities and base themselves at shell addresses overseas — out of the reach of global regulators.

You might expect Google, and other internet giants such as Facebook, to stop this embarrassing misuse of their platforms. But, until this week, you’d have been disappointed.

For years internet giants have

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