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Victims lose £610m to scams in first half of 2022

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Criminals stole £610m from unsuspecting victims in the first half of this year – a fall from the pandemic peak – but Brits are urged to stay on guard to new and adapting scams.

Unauthorised fraud losses totalled £360.8m while authorised push payment (APP) fraud losses stood at £249.1m in the first half of 2022, according to UK Finance.

The banking trade body revealed this figure is down 13% on the same period in 2021, but stressed the drop was partially due to last year being an “exceptionally high period for fraud”, rather than the start of a downward trend.

It also revealed that the banking and finance industry prevented a further £583.9m of unauthorised fraud getting into the hands of criminals.

Fraud losses

Unauthorised fraud is where the account holder doesn’t give consent for the transaction which is carried out by a criminal, such as where a victim’s card details are used without their knowledge.

There were nearly 1.4 million instances of fraud via payment card, remote banking or cheque, though this number is down 7% and losses from last year are down 9%.

UK Finance said victims of unauthorised payment card fraud are legally protected against losses, and industry analysis found victims are refunded in over 98% of all confirmed cases.

Meanwhile authorised push payment (APP) fraud is where a customer is tricked into transferring money to a seemingly legitimate account but which is in fact controlled by a scammer.

This includes investment scams, impersonation scams, invoice and CEO fraud, as well as romance and purchase scams via auction websites.

UK Finance said criminals used scam phone calls, text messages and emails, as well as fake websites and social media posts, to trick people into handing over personal details and passwords. They subsequently used this information to convince people into authorising a payment.

These types of scam losses are down 17% from last year, while there have been over 95,000 instances in the first half of this year, a 6% decline.

The trade body said while there has been an overall decrease of APP fraud, the amount returned to customers has increased – 11% to £140.1m in the first half of the year.

‘National security threat’

UK Finance said that given much of the fraud takes place through online and technology platforms, it has long been calling for greater cross-section action to tackle the problem and added it “will continue working with the government on upcoming legislation in this area”.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “The level of fraud in the UK is such that it must be considered a national security threat. The industry is continuously focused on tackling the threat as we know criminals continue to find new ways to exploit potential victims.

“However, criminal gangs simply bypass the advanced security measures banks have in place and instead directly target the customer, usually outside the confines of the banking system. This is why it is key that other sectors work with us to fight fraud as it remains a persistent threat to businesses, consumers and the growth of the economy not to mention the reputation of the UK as a place to do business.”

Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign

UK Finance urged people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.