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Ruthless fraudsters misled victims over £2bn during the Covid-19 pandemic

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Ruthless fraudsters misled victims over £2bn during the Covid-19 pandemic by targeting isolation and confusion caused during lockdown, shocking numbers reveal

  • Officials recorded 4.6 million cases of fraud between January last year and June
  • Fraudsters have stolen a record £754million in the first six months of this year alone
  • The situation is now so dire that banks say it poses a threat to national security










Fraudsters have defrauded victims over £2bn during the pandemic, shocking figures reveal today.

Ruthless criminals have taken advantage of the isolation and confusion caused by the lockdown to steal savings at an unprecedented rate.

In the first six months of this year alone, they made a record £754 million – 30 per cent more than in the same period last year.

As ministers face calls to bring the crisis under control, Money Mail is today launching a survival guide to help readers protect their money.

Officials recorded 4.6 million cases of fraud between January last year and June this year. The situation is now so dire that banks say it poses a threat to national security

Analysis of banking figures shows that victims duped into sending money directly to fraudsters lost £834 million between January last year and July this year. Only £357 million was repaid.

The ‘authorized push payment’ scam involves fake parcel delivery SMS messages being sent to mobile phones as online shopping boomed with home orders.

Criminals also took advantage of the vaccine’s rollout to trick individuals into giving up their personal information and preyed on the lonesome with romantic scammers.

Another £1.2 billion was lost to unauthorized fraud, with criminals armed with personal bank details helping themselves to savings accounts.

Officials recorded 4.6 million cases of fraud between January last year and June this year. The situation is now so dire that banks say it poses a threat to national security.

“Fraud is cruel, it destroys lives and we have 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 is calling on ministers and banks to do more.

The 'authorized push payment' scam involves fake parcel delivery SMS messages sent to mobile phones as online shopping boomed with home orders

The ‘authorized push payment’ scam involves fake parcel delivery SMS messages sent to mobile phones as online shopping boomed with home orders

But since the campaign’s launch three years ago, fraudsters have been allowed to continue stealing ever larger amounts.

In today’s Mail, Rip Off Britain presenter Angela Rippon writes our fraud guide and says it is imperative that the government act to stop the ‘harmful flow’ of scams.

She writes: “Isolation meant that people of all ages felt more vulnerable than usual – and vulnerability is exactly what fraudsters look for in their next potential victim. Your defenses have already been knocked out.’

Most banks signed a fraud refund code in 2019, pledging to ensure that no blameless victims of wire transfer scams would be left out.

Still, the latest banking industry figures show that less than half of the money lost to wire transfer scams over the 18-month period was returned.

Campaigners have also urged the government to hold internet giants responsible for hosting investment scam websites that cost victims more than £240 million during the pandemic.

Gareth Shaw, of the consumer lobbying group Which?, said: ‘We have seen online platforms allow fraudsters to operate with impunity.

“It is clear that the current laws and regulations to protect consumers are simply not fit for purpose.”

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