Banks warn of fraud ‘epidemic’ as losses soar from authorised push payment scams

The UK is facing an “epidemic of fraud”, driven by a surge of scams where victims are tricked into sending cash to fraudsters’ accounts, according to a financial services trade body.

The more than £580mn lost in 2021 in this type of scam known as authorised push payment fraud — a 40 per cent increase, year on year — reflects criminals’ efforts to exploit the pandemic, according to a report by UK Finance published on Wednesday.

“Fraudsters have become increasingly adept at adapting their methods to suit changes in our lifestyles and in consumer behaviour. We can only tackle this through effective co-ordinated action,” said Katy Worobec, UK Finance’s managing director for economic crime.

“We need continued efforts from government and other sectors to tackle what is now a national security threat.”

Overall losses to fraud in the UK rose to £1.3bn in 2021 compared with £1.2bn in 2020. About 44 per cent of the total came from authorised push payment fraud, according to the findings, while 40 per cent involved payment cards, including counterfeits.

An additional 15 per cent came from remote banking transactions, made via the internet, phone or mobile apps.

Of the almost 200,000 cases of authorised push payment fraud reported by UK Finance members, “purchase scams” — in which victims pay for goods or services that they never receive — were the most common, making up almost half of cases.

However, investment scams caused the greatest losses….

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