Feeds

Five arrested over money-grubbing fake UK.gov shocker

Trading standards raid houses across Blighty and suspend 25 copycat sites

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Five suspects in Blighty have been arrested during an investigation of copycat government websites that con folks out of money for items like new passports, driving tests and car tax discs.

The sites try to pass themselves off as official and then trick people into paying for services that the government actually provides more cheaply or even free of charge.

The National Trading Standards eCrime Team said it had raided four properties across the UK and suspended at least 25 sites in a crackdown on the fraud.

“Our eCrime team is clamping down on the cyber fraudsters behind these websites and we are making it as difficult as possible for these online hoaxers to operate. 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,” said Lord Toby Harris, chair of the standards board.

“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 board reckons the best way for UK netizens to make sure they’re on the right site is to avoid search engines altogether and go straight to GOV.UK. If folks do use search engines, they’ve been warned to pay attention to the difference between natural results and paid-for results.

Over 5,000 complaints were made to Citizens Advice last year about copycat sites and another 700 to the Advertising Standards Authority. Most complaints were about sites related to driving licences, passports or tax returns.

The fraud sites frequently use URLs that have fragments of official names like “govuk” or “directgov” to make them look like the real thing.

“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 and take their hard-earned cash and even put them at risk of identity theft,” warned Jo Swinson, minister for consumer affairs.

“The enforcement action which the National Trading Standards eCrime team has taken demonstrates the government’s commitment to tackling these scammers. We will not let them get away with misleading consumers.” ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.