Forget Africa, bank fraud in Britain is mind-boggling as criminals steal £1m per day
London, Sep 28, 2019 (AltAfrica)-One would expect that a country like Great Britain with advancement in almost every human endeavour including technology and security, would be much more saver in banking transactions, but that is not the case as criminals appear to be having a field day
It has now been officially revealed that the amount of money stolen by criminals through bank transfer scams in Britain has risen by 40% in just one year and is running at more than £1m a day, according to official UK data.
Scammers stole £616m from UK bank customers during the first six months of 2019, according to banking body UK Finance. Of this total, £207.5m was lost to scams in which people were duped into authorising a payment to an account controlled by a criminal.
This was up 40% on the £148.2m figure for the same period in 2018, although UK Finance said the year-on-year numbers were not directly comparable.
This type of scam is officially known as authorised push payment (APP) fraud and includes cases where criminals hack into email accounts, either of individuals or companies the individuals have employed, to dupe consumers into sending large sums to criminal accounts.
Aside bank fraud, UK Finance said it had also seen an increase in criminals deploying “digital skimmers” to steal card data from online shoppers. This typically involves malicious code being added to a retailer’s website, which steals sensitive information including card details at the checkout stage. These stolen details are then used to buy items online.
Old-fashioned financial scams are also increasing, with a 789% rise in the amount lost to cheque fraud. This is largely down to criminals targeting businesses, some of which are apparently failing to keep their cheque books locked up securely.
While cheque usage is in rapid decline, losses jumped from £3.3m in the first half of 2018 to £29.4m in the same period this year, a rise of 789%. The number of cases during the latest six-month period totalled 1,515.
This may be fuelled by the fact that some large businesses print their own cheques, but may not be using security watermark paper. It appears some businesses are not storing their company cheques in fully secure locations.
The UK Finance report breaks down how much money was lost to different types of fraud.
Investment scams accounted for the largest proportion of losses – a total of £43.4 million, twice the amount lost in the same period in 2018. The average victim, who is typically tricked into transferring money into funds or investments that don’t exist, lost £12,200. Just £2.9 million of this was refunded by banks.
More than a quarter of all authorised push payment scam losses were the result of invoice and mandate fraud. This is where criminals pose as solicitors or builders, for example, and intercept invoices sent to customers via email so they can swap the bank details for their own.
The number of impersonation scam reports also doubled compared to the first six months of 2018. Earlier this month, a UK TV presenter Helen Skelton was conned out of £70,000 by telephone scammers claiming to be from her bank.
UK Finance blamed the rise in bank fraud on data breaches and theft of personal information.