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Tech companies to sign agreement with UK government to tackle online fraud

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of binary code are seen in this picture illustration

LONDON (Reuters) - Eleven of the world's biggest tech companies, including Amazon.com, Alphabet's Google and Microsoft, will sign an agreement with the British government on Thursday to step up their efforts to tackle online fraud, the interior ministry said.

Under the "Online Fraud Charter," due to be signed at a meeting chaired by Interior Minister James Cleverly in London, the companies pledge to take further action to block and remove fraudulent content from their sites, the government said.

In addition to Amazon, Google and Microsoft, the voluntary agreement will be signed by eBay, Meta Platforms' Facebook and Instagram, Microsoft's LinkedIn, Match Group, Snap's Snapchat, ByteDance's TikTok and Google's YouTube, with a pledge to implement the measures that apply to their companies within six months.

"Fraud is now the most common crime in the UK, with online scammers targeting the most vulnerable in society," British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

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"By joining forces with these tech giants we will continue to crack down on fraudsters, making sure they have nowhere to hide online."

The measures include having simple and quick routes to report fraudulent material, as well as working closely with law enforcement in their efforts to target fraudsters.

The companies will also commit to increased levels of verification on peer-to-peer marketplaces, while people using online dating services will have the opportunity to prove they are not imposters.

The British government says fraud accounts for around 40% of all crime in England and Wales, with data from industry body UK Finance showing almost 80% of all authorised push payment fraud originates online.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London; Editing by Matthew Lewis)