Fraud on contactless cards now accounts for more than half of debit and credit card crime, as criminal push the £30 PIN-free limit to the max.
Thieves are taking advantage of the tap-and-go payment cards to make as many purchases as possible before the card is blocked.
Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime run by the City of London Police, says that in 10 months last year there were 2,739 reports of contactless fraud, totalling almost £1.8 million — up from 1,440 cases worth £711,000 in the same period in 2017.
Average losses ran to between £90 and £625, but the largest single case resulted in a £400,000 loss, owing to multiple purchases.
The Financial Conduct Authority in March last year reported that it was co-ordinating an initiative to address the risks of fraud on contactless cards that have been reported as lost or stolen.
The UK's contactless card programme was derided as 'chaotic' by consumer groups and MPs after it emerged that customers can still be subject to fraudulent transactions up to eight months after reporting lost or stolen cards.