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FCA investigates more than 150 Covid-19 related scams

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has investigated more than 150 coronavirus-related scams since the pandemic began.

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by think tank Parliament Street, reveals the extent to which financial services organisations and banks have been targeted by financial criminals during the pandemic.

The total number of suspected scams reported to the FCA over the past five months is 165. The types of scams that have been circulated during this time include email, phone calls, text messages, letters, and social media.

In one of the scams, fraudsters pretended to be from HMRC and targeted company owners seeking Covid-19 relief grants to help manage their finances throughout the crisis.

Other scams included a targeted effort to steal the login credentials of HSBC customers with business accounts, and seeking to obtain the passport details of financial services workers.

Experts have warned that the rise in sophisticated Covid-19 related scams could leave financial services firms open to the risk of financial crime, especially with increasingly stringent anti-money laundering legislation in the pipeline.

Max Worrall, sales manager at Encompass Corporation, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rapid increase in the number of  financial crime scams entering circulation. There have been numerous reports of company owners and directors receiving highly realistic scam emails, requesting usernames, passwords, and bank details from workers.

“These risks are a reminder of the threats posed to regulated firms seeking to enforce anti-money laundering (AML) measures and customer verification checks. These processes often involve reviewing personally identifiable information and documentation, something criminals are always seeking to get their hands on, by any means necessary.

“It is therefore vital that companies have in place the necessary anti-financial crime systems, as well as the ability to identify and confirm that the customer is who they say they are.”

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