UK new ad scam alert targets digital currency, forex frauds

The U.K.’s advertising watchdog has announced a new alert system for tackling online advertising scams, in response to rising levels of online fraud.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has partnered with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) to develop a new system for detecting and reporting suspicious adverts, with a particular focus on paid ads.

The authorities said the threat from fraud was most acute in digital currency and forex markets, where people were unwittingly falling for scams to the tune of over £197 million ($255 million).

Guy Parker, executive director of the ASA, said increasing numbers of fraudulent ads were being published: “The vast majority of ads responsibly inform and entertain their audience, but a small minority are published with criminal intent. Our scam ad alert system will play an important role in helping to detect and stop these scams.”

The authorities are working with the cooperation of online media platforms, including Facebook and Google.

IAB CEO Jon Mew said that while they could not prevent all fraudulent advertising online, the system would help law enforcement crack down on some fraudulent ads for cryptocurrency investments.

“This initiative takes a joined-up approach to remove scam ads and will play an important role in improving the online ecosystem for both advertisers and consumers. It needs to be used alongside law enforcement to address the underlying illegitimate activity behind these ads,” Mew said.

The move comes at a time of increasing regulation for crypto sectors in the UK. Recently, efforts led by the Financial Conduct Authority have increased the scrutiny on exchanges, particularly in relation to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations.

With fraudulent ads increasing in recent months, the efforts are part of an ongoing fightback from regulators worldwide tasked with protecting the public from rogue investment schemes.

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