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Five arrested over fake UK government sites

Five people have been arrested over the creation of fake government websites.

The sites, which are designed to look like official government domains, often ask users for money for services that are actually free. In particular, most of the scams involved charging fees for tax return, driving licence and passport applications.

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So far, more than 5,700 complaints have been made to the Advertising Standards Authority and Citizens Advice.

The accused were held last week under the Fraud Act and are now on police bail, according to trading standards officials.

The government are also keen to make users aware of the misleading Internet sites, whose URLs often contain fragments of official web addresses, like "govuk" or "directgov." Official government services are only available on the website.

The National Trading Standards Board also said it was making it "as difficult as possible" for online scammers to continue.

Chairman of the board, Lord Harris said, "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.

"We urge you to avoid unofficial websites which could leave you out of pocket or at risk of identity theft."

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Consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson, said that these copycat websites were an unfortunate drawback of being able to order documents online, but that the government is doing every it can to prevent these kind of scams.

"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."