Ruthless fraudsters tricked victims out of more than £2billion during Covid-19 pandemic by targeting the isolation and confusion caused amid lockdown, shock figures reveal
- Officials logged 4.6million cases of fraud between January last year and June
- Fraudsters stole a record £754million in the first six months of this year alone
- The situation is now so dire that banks say that it is a threat to national security
Fraudsters have tricked victims out of more than £2billion during the pandemic, shock figures reveal today.
Ruthless criminals have exploited the isolation and confusion caused by lockdown to steal savings at an unprecedented rate.
They pocketed a record £754million in the first six months of this year alone – 30 per cent more than in the same period of last year.
With ministers facing calls to get a grip on the crisis, Money Mail today launches a survival guide to help readers protect their cash.
Officials logged 4.6million cases of fraud between January last year and June this year. The situation is now so dire that banks say it is a threat to national security
Analysis of banking figures shows that victims duped into sending money direct to fraudsters lost £834million between January last year and this July. Just £357million was refunded.
The ‘authorised push payment’ scams include fake parcel delivery texts sent to mobile phones as online shopping boomed under stay-at-home orders.
Criminals also capitalised on the vaccine roll-out to trick individuals to give up their personal details and preyed on the lonely with romance cons.
A further £1.2billion was lost to unauthorised fraud, where criminals armed with personal bank details help themselves to savings accounts.
Officials logged 4.6million cases of fraud between January last year and June this year. The situation is now so dire that banks say it is a threat to national security.
‘Fraud is cruel, it wrecks lives and we’ve seen a huge increase during the pandemic,’ said Mark Tierney of the campaign group Stop Scams UK. Money Mail’s Stop the Bank Scammers campaign has been calling for ministers and banks to do more.
The ‘authorised push payment’ scams include fake parcel delivery texts sent to mobile phones as online shopping boomed under stay-at-home orders
But since the campaign’s launch three years ago, fraudsters have been allowed to continue stealing ever-increasing amounts.
Writing in today’s Mail, Rip Off Britain presenter Angela Rippon backs our fraud guide and says it is imperative the Government acts to stop the ‘pernicious tide’ of scams.
She writes: ‘Isolation meant people of all ages felt more vulnerable than usual – and vulnerability is exactly what fraudsters look for in their next potential victim. Your defences are already down.’
Most banks signed up to a fraud refund code back in 2019, and promised to ensure no blameless victims of transfer scams were left out of pocket.
Yet the banking industry’s most recent figures show that less than half of money lost to transfer scams over the 18-month period was returned.
Campaigners have also been pushing the Government to hold internet giants accountable for hosting investment scam websites that have cost victims more than £240million during the pandemic.
Gareth Shaw, of consumer lobby group Which?, said: ‘We’ve seen online platforms allow fraudsters to operate with impunity.
‘It’s clear that the laws and regulations currently in place to protect consumers are simply not fit for purpose.’