GOOGLE is raking in tens of millions of pounds from scammers who are using its search engine to lure savers to invest in high-risk or potentially fraudulent schemes.
The internet giant is taking massive fees for promoting accounts from unscrupulous firms that advertise eye-catching savings rates aimed at those looking for the best cash Isas.
Many claim to be regulated by the City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority or have the protection of a financial services compensation scheme but that is not the case.
They also use words such as “secure”, “safe” and “low-risk” to convince savers their money will be protected.
Some use logos of official bodies that do not back them – as well as falsely boasting of links with reputable organisations, reports our sister newspaper
Experts who have analysed the websites found during The Times investigation said Google makes many millions of pounds from them.
Google said it would conduct a thorough investigation of the websites it had approved for its ads service.
The FCA said that it would include the sites on its scams register.
It issued warnings over six savings websites reported by the newspaper.
Many victims of London Capital & Finance (LC&F), which was regulated but collapsed in March having taken £236 million from savers through unregulated products – put their money into it after finding prominent adverts on Google.
Baroness Altmann, the former pensions minister, said: “Surely there should be some responsibility on websites such as Google to check whether a company that claims to be authorised really is.
“It is simply not realistic to expect savers to know how to tell if a provider falsely claims it is regulated by the FCA. Customers clearly need better protection and the FCA is right to ask for more powers.”
After the financial crash, saving rates on accounts offered by banks and building societies have plunged from highs of about six per cent to an average of 0.62 per cent for a typical easy-access deal.
As a result, savers are increasingly using the internet to seek out the best rates.