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Fraud victims lose £1.2bn in 2023 as push payment scams surge

Fraud victims lose £1.2bn in 2023 as push payment scams surge
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

The amount victims lost to fraud soared past £1bn in 2023 – a fraction less than during the previous year, a report finds.

This figure (£1.17bn) could have doubled had it not been for banks intervening, which prevented an extra £1.25bn going into the pockets of criminals.

There were just shy of three million (2.97m) cases of fraud reported in the year, which represents 40% of all crimes in the UK. according to UK Finance’s Annual Fraud Report,

Despite the huge amount stolen from victims, the number of total cases dropped by 1% and the total lost by the UK was down 4% on the year before.

In terms of specific types of scams, authorised push payment cases rose by 12% to reach 232,429 while the amount victims lost slightly decreased by £459.7m.

Authorised push payments on the rise

APP scams are when a victim is tricked into sending money directly from their account to a con artist. The most prevalent examples are purchase scams, investment fraud and romance scams, where cases rose by 34%, 1% and 14% respectively.

For purchase scams, victims lost a total of £85.9m to criminals who promoted goods online to sell that never existed.

The other types of APP scams including impersonations of someone in power (boss or the police) and invoice scams decreased in numbers during last year.

Elsewhere, unauthorised card fraud, where a scammer obtains someone’s card details to make a purchase or payment, decreased during 2023.

Overall, the amount lost to criminals marginally dropped from £556.3m in 2022 to £551.3m last year. There was also a 2% drop in cases which still totalled over 2.7million.

Despite the dip, card ID theft skyrocketed by 53% to £79m as the number of incidents increased by three quarters on last year to hit 142,442 cases for 2024.

Another trend saw unauthorised mobile banking fraud cases rise; this is where a scammer uses compromised bank details to access someone’s account.

Cases shot up by 62% to see £45.5m taken off mobile banking customers.

Serious organised crimes funded by scams

Ben Donaldson, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, says the criminals who commit these crimes “destroy lives and damage our society”.

“The money stolen [through fraud] funds serious organised crime and victims often suffer emotional damage as fraud is a pernicious and manipulative crime.

Donaldson added: “The financial services industry remains at the forefront of efforts to protect customers, prevent fraud and support those who fall victim. With reimbursement rules set to change we risk even more money getting into criminal hands, unless the technology and telecommunication sectors take prop action to stop the fraud that proliferates on their platforms and networks.

Fraudulent messages are now ‘third certainty of life’

In a year where a case of fraud was reported every two minutes, Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst, Interactive Investor, believes “some progress has been made in the ongoing battle against scams”.

Indeed, in February this year the Government launched a national TV and radio campaign ‘Stop! Think Fraud’, with the help of social media giants Meta, as well as banking providers including Barclays too.

However, he insisted more must be done to tackle the range of cons that have now become part of everyday life.

Jobson said: “Receiving scam correspondence has seemingly become the third certainty of life, alongside death and taxes. For many Britons, not a day goes by without receiving some form of malicious correspondence designed to defraud.

“In our increasingly digitised world, financial scams are like weeds in a garden; no matter how much we tend to it, they keep popping up, threatening our financial well-being.

“Common scams such as postage and impersonation scams are becoming increasingly difficult to recognise, because they constantly alter their disguises.”

Jobson added: “In addition to the basics, which include not sharing your login credentials and ensuring that online transactions are made from secure and trusted websites, be mindful of who you disclose personal information to and remember that if a proposition seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”