The lastest fraud figures released by UK Finance reveal a huge rise in authorised push payment (APP) fraud in 2021, with losses 39% up on the same period in 2020.
A total of over £1.3 billion was stolen through fraud and scams in 2021: unauthorised fraud was £730.4 million and APP fraud was £583.2 million, with nearly 40 per cent of APP losses due to impersonation scams.
In 2021, criminals impersonated a range of organisations such as the NHS, banks and government departments via phone calls, text messages, emails, fake websites and social media posts to trick people into handing over their personal and financial information. They subsequently used this information to convince people into authorising a payment.
There were 195,996 incidents of APP scams in 2021 with £214.8 million lost to impersonation scams and £171.7 million lost to investment scams. Purchase scams accounted for 51 per cent of all cases - although total losses were £64.1 million.
Despite the imposition of a voluntary reimbursement scheme on the UK's major banks, just 47% of victims had their losses reimbursed, figures which have been condemned by consumer campaigning organistions.
Katy Worobec, managing director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, comments: “Authorised fraud losses rose again this year as criminals targeted people through a variety of sophisticated scams, with much of the criminal activity taking place outside the banking sector, often involving online and technology platforms. This is why we continue to call for other sectors to play a greater role in helping protect customers from the scourge of fraud."
She says the forthcoming Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill provides the opportunity for the government to give new powers on information sharing and tracking stolen money. "These are things we have long called for and will support efforts to work together and stop the fraud happening in the first place."
Kate Frankish, chief business development officer and anti-fraud lead at Pay.UK agrees:
“These numbers provide further worrying proof of the scale and seriousness of the fraud taking place in the UK. We need to fight together, with better collaboration and knowledge sharing between banks, the government, regulators, telecoms and social media companies, and law enforcement. We need to increase public awareness of the risks of fraud. And we need to share data and technology that can spot the crime and enable banks and payment providers to intervene before it happens."