After over 5,700 complaints, 5 people have been arrested in relation to hoax websites which trick users into believing the site is a legitimate government website. The websites, which claim to offer services such as ordering driving licenses and passports, charge user’s money for such services which are normally free. This scam can trick unsuspecting people into losing hundreds of pounds.
Action has already been taken to remove the links and advertisements from online search results to avoid further damage being caused to consumers. The copycat websites are designed to look like official websites with extremely similar designs to the genuine sites.
Consumer financial advice site MoneySavingExpert’s creator, Martin Lewis, has advised people to use the official government site to search for the information they need, rather than using a search engine.
In response to the counterfeit websites, the government has launched a new campaign to help raise awareness of copycat websites and how to spot the differences. Remember to check the URLs, as hoax websites will include fragments such as ‘govuk’ or ‘directgov’.
All official government services can be found on gov.uk