Criminals steal £500m during first half of 2018

Criminals steal £500m during first half of 2018

Financial criminals stole a total of £500m in the first half of 2018, with purchase scams being the most prevalent.

Data from UK Finance, published this morning (25 September), showed a total of £145.4m was lost from January to June 2018 due to authorised push payment scams (APP), split between personal (£92.9m) and non-personal (£52.5m) accounts.

The data showed there were a total of 34,128 cases of APP scams, split between personal and non-personal accounts, which saw 31,510 cases and 2,618 cases respectively.

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In an APP scam, the account holder is scammed into authorising a payment to be made to another account.

Current legislation means that customers have no legal protection to cover them for losses, if they have authorised the payment themselves.

However, the data showed financial providers were able to return a total of £30.9m of the losses in the half year period.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: "The criminals behind [financial crime] target their victims indiscriminately and the proceeds go on to fund terrorism, people smuggling and drug trafficking, whether or not the individual is refunded.

"Every part of society must help to stamp out this menace, especially by stopping the data breaches which increasingly are fueling fraud.

“The finance industry is committed to fighting back, investing millions in security systems and cyber defenses to protect customers.

"We have brought in new standards to ensure scam victims get the help they need from their payments provider. We are supporting law enforcement in disrupting the criminals and freezing stolen money and we are assisting the government in improving intelligence sharing to extinguish the threat.”

UK Finance said the most prevalent type of APP scams were purchase scams, accounting for 63 per cent of cases with a total of £19.4m lost in the first half of 2018.

Purchase scams involve the victim paying in advance for a product or service which is never received or does not exist. Purchase scams often take place online, through auction websites or social media.

CEO fraud had the least number of cases but resulted in the highest average case value of £23,055. 

There were also a total of 3,866 reported cases of unauthorised impersonation scams in the first half of 2018, with an average loss in a police and bank impersonation scam of £11,402 and in other impersonation scams of £7,504.  

As part of these scams the criminal purports to be from the police, bank and other organisations and tricks the victim into transferring money, often claiming there has been fraud on the account.

According to UK Finance, losses due to unauthorised transactions on payment cards fell 2 per cent year-on-year to £281.2m, with the financial industry helping to prevent £493.5m in attempted unauthorised card fraud. 

There were 1,036,376 reported cases of unauthorised financial fraud, a rise of 10 per cent compared with the year before.

Tony Blake, head of fraud prevention at the dedicated card and payment crime unit, said: "Criminals are after your money and they are clever at getting it, impersonating people and organisations to groom even the savviest into acting.