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Fraudsters target victims by hijacking Google’s search engine with phoney financial adverts

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fraudsters target victims by hijacking googles search engine with phoney financial adverts

Fraudsters are hijacking Google‘s search engine to target victims with phoney financial adverts, consumer group Which? found. 

Investigators discovered the scams after searches for terms such as ‘top Isa’ and ‘best bonds’. 

It came after one victim lost £160,000 after clicking on a link for an investment scheme from a swindler posing as a respected firm.   

Fraudsters are hijacking Google’s search engine to target victims with phoney financial adverts

Fraudsters are hijacking Google’s search engine to target victims with phoney financial adverts

Fraudsters are also exploiting vulnerable people seeking debt help with ads imitating charities. 

Advertisers promoting financial services and products on Google are given 21 days to submit verification documentation. 

Which? warned that fraudsters are exploiting this grace period to exploit victims. 

Google said this benefit will be removed for some users from this month. 

But Which? says all advertisers should be verified before their services are published online. 

Money editor Jenny Ross said: ‘People should be able to trust the ads they see on Google are legitimate.’   

Google said protecting users from advert scams and fraud was ‘a key priority’.

The consumer group found suspect ads when searching for debt charity StepChange.

Distressed motorists at the roadside after a traffic accident have also been targeted by ‘click-to-dial’ ads that lead those looking for their insurer’s phone number to instead contact claims management companies, Which? said.

One victim lost £160,000 after clicking on a link for an investment scheme from a swindler posing as a respected firm

One victim lost £160,000 after clicking on a link for an investment scheme from a swindler posing as a respected firm

Consumers are led to believe these firms are working on behalf of their insurer to submit a claim, however their details are passed on to third-party companies and people can find themselves owing thousands of pounds for services which would have been covered by their genuine insurer.

Which? found search results for ‘Admiral claims number’, ‘NFU phone number’ and ‘Aviva claims department’ brought up adverts for third party websites referring to themselves with terms such as the ‘official claims line’ and ‘claims department’.

A statement from Google given to Which? said: ‘Protecting users from ad scams and fraud is a key priority. To more effectively prevent predatory financial ads in the UK, we now require certain advertisers promoting financial products or services to complete our business operations verification programme.

‘This will allow us to gain more information about the advertisers’ identity, business model and relationships with third parties so users can trust the ads they’re seeing.

‘This policy update follows months of engagement with and input from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to ensure we’re effectively addressing the bad actors responsible for predatory financial ads.’

Google said protecting users from advert scams and fraud was 'a key priority'

Google said protecting users from advert scams and fraud was ‘a key priority’

Richard Lane, director of external affairs at StepChange, said: ‘People are shocked when they realise that predators are out there impersonating legitimate debt charities, determined to make money by cynically exploiting people in vulnerable financial circumstances.

‘Yet to date, regulators and search engines have failed to put in place robust mechanisms to stop this from happening. Last year, we reported around 100 offending adverts, and despite the changes this year we have already reported 56.

‘It takes time, effort and money to pursue each of these impersonator incidents, and it has become a frustrating game of cat and mouse which is ultimately harmful and damaging to people who are already facing enough difficulty without this additional element.

‘We continue to urge the regulators and those responsible for accepting online advertising, including Google, to go further and do more to clamp down on these offenders more effectively.

‘This is more important than ever at this time, when more people will be looking online for debt help in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, be careful – if the website address isn’t stepchange.org, then the organisation you’re dealing with isn’t StepChange.’

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This second wave of coronavirus is simply not as deadly, says PROFESSOR KAROL SIKORA

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this second wave of coronavirus is simply not as deadly says professor karol sikora

Britain is now in grave danger of sleepwalking into a second national lockdown. The consequences of doing so would be disastrous.

We find ourselves in this wretched position partly because the Government’s main achievement since the pandemic first emerged in China has not been suppressing the virus or saving lives or the economy, but in spreading irrational fear.

I understand people’s anxieties, especially those who are elderly or suffering other chronic ailments. 

The disruption to family life caused by the summer lockdown, and the new restrictions imposed since then, have demoralised and isolated many.

Their fear has been compounded by the actions of a Government that is not in charge of events, buffeted by the conflicting advice of scientists. 

The disruption to family life caused by the summer lockdown, and the new restrictions imposed since then, have demoralised and isolated many. Pictured: Loved-ones kept apart by glass at a care home during lockdown

The disruption to family life caused by the summer lockdown, and the new restrictions imposed since then, have demoralised and isolated many. Pictured: Loved-ones kept apart by glass at a care home during lockdown

Britain’s much-expanded – but still imperfect – testing regime has detected an increased infection rate in many regions. 

In some parts of the UK, the famous ‘R figure’ is nudging 1.4. 

This is not disastrous, but it’s certainly far from ideal.

However, a return to a blanket lockdown is the last thing we should be contemplating if we are serious about the nation’s mental and physical well-being. 

We simply cannot afford to panic.

Yes, the rate of infection is rising. It has risen sharply in recent weeks in Spain too, leading to much talk about a ‘second wave’ there.

Crucially, though, Spanish hospital admissions have lagged far behind the infection rate.

On Tuesday, 154 people were admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the UK, about double the week before. 

The question is: will these cases be containable, as they seem to be in Spain, or will we soon be suffering the exponential increase in hospital admissions we all remember from April?

This second wave or, in Boris Johnson’s typically memorable phrase, the second ‘hump on the camel’s back’, will not trigger the explosion in deaths we saw in the spring. To put it bluntly, it doesn’t matter much if healthy young people get Covid, so long as they do not pass it on to elderly or vulnerable relatives. Pictured: A Covid-19 patient is treated by staff in an ICU

This second wave or, in Boris Johnson’s typically memorable phrase, the second ‘hump on the camel’s back’, will not trigger the explosion in deaths we saw in the spring. To put it bluntly, it doesn’t matter much if healthy young people get Covid, so long as they do not pass it on to elderly or vulnerable relatives. Pictured: A Covid-19 patient is treated by staff in an ICU

On the basis of all the current evidence, I believe it will be the former.

For one thing, the vast majority of those currently testing positive for Covid are experiencing mild symptoms and remain in good overall health.

The other point to remember is that the terrible death toll Britain suffered in the spring was due largely to the grotesque error of clearing hospitals of elderly patients and sending them, untested, into care homes.

This second wave or, in Boris Johnson’s typically memorable phrase, the second ‘hump on the camel’s back’, will not trigger the explosion in deaths we saw in the spring.

To put it bluntly, it doesn’t matter much if healthy young people get Covid, so long as they do not pass it on to elderly or vulnerable relatives. 

Not a single young child has died in the UK from Covid without some other serious pre-existing condition. 

According to Cambridge statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter, anyone under 50 is more likely to die in a car crash than from the virus.

Yet Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been on the airwaves this week floating the idea of a two-week national lockdown to serve as a ‘circuit-breaker’ for the virus.

If only. A circuit breaker instantly shuts down a dangerous current of electricity.

A time-limited lockdown, however, takes weeks to work, if at all – and there is every chance the virus would rebound as soon as it was lifted.

Most depressingly of all, word has gone out from Whitehall to NHS trusts to start preparing wards for an influx of new cases.

Just as NHS diagnostic services are revving back up again, they risk being forced into a screeching U-turn. 

NHS hospitals need to get on with their routine business of keeping the nation healthy.

For one thing, the vast majority of those currently testing positive for Covid are experiencing mild symptoms and remain in good overall health. Pictured: People use a relatively quiet Covid-19 testing centre in Bolton

For one thing, the vast majority of those currently testing positive for Covid are experiencing mild symptoms and remain in good overall health. Pictured: People use a relatively quiet Covid-19 testing centre in Bolton

My field is cancer. I make no apology for highlighting that 30,000 extra cancer deaths will soon emerge thanks to delays in doctors picking up symptoms and in patients being referred for scans and tests.

Tragically, these people are doomed to die, though many of them do not know it yet. Many will be thirty or forty years younger than the vast majority of those dying of Covid.

And it’s not just cancer: Roughly 100,000 people suffer a stroke every year. 

This year, almost one third of sufferers have put off seeking treatment during the pandemic, delaying the use of vital blood-thinning drugs that limit the long-term damage caused by a stroke.

We live in an age when ministers who lack basic confidence in their abilities come up with ever sillier gimmicks about ‘circuit-breaking’ lockdowns and testing ‘moonshots’.

We need basic common sense from the top, not confusion and retreat.

Covid-19 is a very dangerous virus for the elderly, the medically vulnerable and the obese.

Those groups need to take personal responsibility for keeping themselves safe, but that does not mean cowering at home.

They should still take a walk along a river or in a park, keep away from crowds and remain in an environment where they, not others, can be responsible for keeping their distance. 

All of us should be washing our hands regularly, and yes, wearing a mask – but the young and healthy must also get on with their lives.

In the short term, this is a virus we are going to have to live with. Let us start doing so.

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Is suspended nurse and anti-vaxxer Kate Shemirani the most dangerous woman in Britain?

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is suspended nurse and anti vaxxer kate shemirani the most dangerous woman in britain

Kate Shemirani strides into the hotel where we meet with such confidence that, despite the signs insisting masks must be worn, nobody challenges her lack of face covering.

By the time the receptionist has emerged from behind the desk, the 54-year-old suspended nurse has already swept off down a corridor in her strappy white stilettos.

Had she been stopped, goodness only knows what kind of kerfuffle would have ensued. For anti-vaxxer Shemirani is pretty forthright when it comes to imparting her views on the global Covid-19 pandemic — or ‘scamdemic’ as she calls it.

Over the past few weeks, this glossy mother-of-four from East Sussex has emerged as the new face of the UK’s anti-vaccination movement. At the end of last month, she joined conspiracy theorists David Icke and Piers Corbyn, older brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, at a protest against coronavirus restrictions and plans for a Covid-19 vaccine.

A couple of weeks ago, she popped up again outside Downing Street where she gave a speech to the assembled masses about the ‘Covid-19 myth’ before being briefly arrested. This weekend, she will appear centre-stage at another rally in Trafalgar Square.

Over the past few weeks, Kate Shemirani, a glossy mother-of-four from East Sussex, has emerged as the new face of the UK's anti-vaccination movement

Over the past few weeks, Kate Shemirani, a glossy mother-of-four from East Sussex, has emerged as the new face of the UK’s anti-vaccination movement

Covid-19, says Shemirani, doesn’t exist. Its symptoms are linked to the roll-out of new 5G wireless technology. There is no pandemic — it’s a conspiracy to control the masses.

The upcoming Covid-19 vaccination is, in reality, a political tool to gain access to and to change people’s DNA. She likens the ongoing lockdown restrictions to the Holocaust, asking whether the public will wake up ‘on the cattle truck? Or in the showers?’

These outlandish claims have landed her in hot water with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), who suspended her registration in July, and seen her kicked off Facebook and Instagram for spreading misinformation. But they’ve also seen her Twitter following treble in the past three weeks. 

And despite 35 years as a registered nurse, Shemirani couldn’t give two hoots about the NMC suspension because the organisation is a ‘criminal governing body’ with a ‘terrorist agenda to commit genocide’.

‘These are not views. This is the truth,’ she snaps, adding — not for the last time — ‘I’ve done my research and if you slander me, I’ll sue you.’

Within minutes of sitting down, the conversation gets really weird. The new Covid-19 vaccine, she says, contains particles powered by military-style ‘Darpa’ technology. ‘They will be able to look at every aspect of what is going on in our brains,’ she says, ‘Not only can they pick it up, they can download into us.’

The big question, of course, is who on earth would want to do this? Her reply is to talk about a global ‘narrative’ — a powerful elite using the pandemic to create a new world order.

Next comes her most astonishing claim of all: ‘No vaccine has ever been proven safe or effective,’ she says.

This is preposterous. Take polio, for example, where cases dropped following a mass vaccination programme in the 1950s, with no UK cases since the mid 1980s. ‘What is polio?’ she says, before launching into a conspiracy theory about it being caused by the insecticide DDT.

Conversing with Shemirani is an unsettling experience. On one level, she’s the epitome of conventional middle-classdom — a former NHS nurse and stay-at-home mother with an ex-husband who worked in the City and four children, now between 17 and 21, who were privately educated.

At the end of last month, she joined conspiracy theorists David Icke and Piers Corbyn, older brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, at a protest against coronavirus restrictions and plans for a Covid-19 vaccine

At the end of last month, she joined conspiracy theorists David Icke and Piers Corbyn, older brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, at a protest against coronavirus restrictions and plans for a Covid-19 vaccine

When she is addressing the crowds at a rally, she can also call upon her working-class roots.

The postman’s daughter from Nottingham, who left school before completing her A-levels, worked variously in a factory, a bar in Spain and in Argos and, after qualifying at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1984, supplemented her salary as a theatre nurse with modelling assignments. From 1990 to 1998 she worked as a long-haul BA air stewardess.

After her children were born, she briefly set up her own business administering Botox, fillers and peels, and it was only a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2012 that saw her perform a complete volte-face in terms of her attitude to conventional medicine.

After undergoing a double mastectomy and reconstruction, she refused chemotherapy on the advice of her then husband, himself a conspiracy theorist who believed 9/11 was an inside job.

She embarked on a fat-free, salt-free, sugar-free vegan regime including high doses of vitamins as well as 13 juices a day, five coffee enemas and mistletoe injected into her stomach. Nine years on and still largely following that regime, she has had no recurrence of disease. Now describing herself as a nutritionist after taking an online diploma, she recommends the same treatment to other cancer patients.

She is unperturbed by the fact that there are no clinical trials to support her recommendations and rebuts any attempt to provide evidence, with the counter-claim: ‘There are no studies in oncology that tell you that you are going to die if you don’t do the (chemotherapy) treatment.’

There is, however, an abundance of evidence showing cancer patients’ survival rates improve when they do have it.

During our interview, I notice how she often takes isolated pieces of information and puts them together to present a new ‘truth’ of her own. Vaccines, for example, do indeed contain aluminium. But the amounts are too small to be harmful — aluminium is one of the most common metals found in nature and is present in air, food and water.

In Shemirani’s world, anyone who disagrees with her is lying, misinformed or jealous. Overweight, envious nurses come in for particular criticism.

‘The fact that I was always graced with decent looks and I’m always very slim has generated jealousy throughout my career,’ she said in another interview.

This weekend, the campaigner, pictured, will appear centre-stage at another rally in Trafalgar Square

This weekend, the campaigner, pictured, will appear centre-stage at another rally in Trafalgar Square

And she certainly has no time for official health organisations or their peer-reviewed studies. Public Health England is ‘just a bunch of criminals’. Cancer Research UK ‘crooks’ and the NHS is ‘the new Auschwitz’.

It was in March this year that her claims finally landed her in hot water. As the resident ‘health and wellness’ expert on her local Sussex radio station Uckfield FM, she spent 20 minutes telling listeners ‘the truth’ about Covid-19.

Her summary of this broadcast is baffling: ‘I talked about Covid-19 — how there was an inversion in the genome sequence, indicative of vector technology.

‘That Wuhan, according to the telecommunications network in China, had been the test city for 5G from autumn of 2019, that mandatory vaccinations came into force in December of 2019 in China.’ After complaints from listeners, Uckfield FM was reprimanded by Ofcom and ordered to broadcast an apology.

Anti-vaxxers, of course, have been coming out with this kind of stuff for years. Britain has been a hub of bogus claims about vaccine safety ever since Andrew Wakefield falsely claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in the late 1990s. He was later struck off for serious misconduct and research fraud.

And yet Shemirani describes 61-year-old Wakefield, who continues to promote his views in the U.S., as an ‘amazing’ man. This weekend, he will join her at the Trafalgar Square rally.

But while she and other conspiracy theorists continue to dismiss the current health crisis as a ‘scamdemic’ designed to engender fear among the populace, surely the most terrifying prospect of all is the outlandish world she believes in.

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Don’t tell teacher: pupils set school bus on fire

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dont tell teacher pupils set school bus on fire

A group of pupils reportedly set a bus on fire after allegedly turning their hair spray cans into ‘flamethrowers.’

The single-decker vehicle was pictured with huge flames and smoke pouring from the roof at around 3:45pm in Shepherdswell, near Dover, Kent, yesterday.

It was reported the blaze was started by schoolchildren who set hair spray or hand sanitiser on fire.

The single-deck vehicle is pictured with huge flames smoke pouring from the roof at around 3:45pm in Shepherdswell, near Dover, Kent, today

The single-deck vehicle is pictured with huge flames smoke pouring from the roof at around 3:45pm in Shepherdswell, near Dover, Kent, today

Firefighters could be seen attending to the blaze and putting the fire out

Firefighters could be seen attending to the blaze and putting the fire out

The driver was understood to be alert to the incident and managed to evacuated everyone from the bus before it went up in flames.

Pictures from the scene show the bus at a standstill while flames douse the turquoise vehicle along a quiet residential street.  

Firefighters could be seen attending to the blaze and putting the fire out.

The images show the bus has been completely burnt out with only the steering wheel and driver’s chair still visible.  

Despite the severity of the fire there were not thought to be any injuries from the incident. 

Social media users reacted with dismay at the blaze, but praised the driver for his quick-thinking to get the schoolchildren off the bus. 

One person described the bus driver as a ‘legend’, while another described him as the ‘hero of the day.’ 

It is not clear which school the pupils are from, or if police are investigating the incident.

Kent Police has been contacted for comment. 

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