The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has resorted to using its own funds to pay for online advertisements to counteract ads placed by financial services scammers.
Former FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey told the Treasury committee at the beginning of March 2020 that the watchdog was forced to tap into its own pockets to fight fraudsters.
Between January and 10 March 2020, the financial watchdog had to fork out a gross sum of £89,491 ($111,626, €102,711) in paid searches, a freedom of information (FOI) request sent by publication FT Adviser showed.
Prior to January 2020, it did not spend a single penny on paid searches, the FCA added.
International Adviser revealed in December 2019, that the regulator was working with tech giant Google to find a way to restrict unauthorised firms from advertising on the search engine.
The move followed the temporary ban on the promotion of speculative mini-bonds, which stemmed from the mis-selling scandal of London Capital & Finance.
The FCA said: “On 17 January 2020, we launched a webpage addressing the topic of high returns investments. The aim of the page is to warn consumers about the risks associated with high return investments, as well as simple measures they can take to assess suitability and make better informed decisions before investing.
“We are also using paid search against common investment keywords, to target users at a critical point in their investment user journey online.
“We will combine this with search engine optimisation (SEO) to make sure this page appears as high up as possible on organic search results and drive users to the page.
“We also plan to put paid spend behind our social posts, which will drive more consumers to the webpage,” it said.