Criminals exploiting coronavirus pandemic, trade association warns

30 Sep 2020

UK Finance is warning that criminals have been exploiting and adapting to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with a growth in fraud and scams that target people online.

The trade association's research revealed that unauthorised fraud fell by 8% to £374.3 million in the first half of 2020 as the banking industry prevented £853 million worth of losses.

The amount lost to Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud was £207.8 million, which was in line with the same period in 2019. Finance providers were able to return £73.1 million of APP fraud losses to victims, up 86% when compared to last year.

However, the growth in online fraud has seen more scams harvest customers' personal and financial details, for example through phishing emails or smishing text messages, which impersonate trusted organisations.

There is often a delay between criminals obtaining people's details and using them to commit fraud, meaning the full losses from COVID-19-related scams in the first half of this year are likely to not yet have been fully realised.

Commenting on the data, Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: 'Criminals have ruthlessly adapted to this pandemic, with scams exploiting the rise in people working from home and spending time online. These range from investment scams promoted on social media and search engines to the use of phishing emails and fake websites to harvest people's data.'

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