It comes amid an explosion of scams during the pandemic. Fraud cost individuals £800m in the six months to the end of August, up from £762m for the prior six months, according to Action Fraud, the national fraud agency.

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of fraud offences rose to almost five million in the year to March, up by a quarter compared with 2019.

Liz Field, of the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association, a trade body, described the drop in spending as “nothing short of reckless” and gave scammers “a free pass to rob the public”.

“I am baffled by the Government’s reluctance to combat online fraud,” she said. “People are losing their life savings in some instances. The damage created by online fraud is even driving some people to consider suicide and we know the figures being reported are just the tip of the iceberg given the amount of under-reporting there is.”

Helen Undy, of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said HMRC’s drop in spending on scam warnings was “bizarre and unwelcome”.

“This is symptomatic of a wider failure by the Government to take the financial and psychological harms that scams cause seriously,” she said.

Ms Undy said the new Online Safety Bill should be used to stamp out online scams and fraud – including adverts – one of the biggest resources for criminals. However, such rules were not included.

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