Ruthless fraudsters deceived victims over £ 2 billion during Covid-19 pandemic

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Ruthless fraudsters deceived victims over more than £ 2bn during the Covid-19 pandemic by targeting isolation and confusion caused amid lockdown, shock figures reveal

  • Authorities recorded 4.6 million fraud cases 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 serious that the banks say it is a threat to national security










Fraudsters have deceived victims of more than £ 2 billion during the pandemic, shock figures reveal today.

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

They have pocketed a record £ 754million in the first six months of this year alone, up 30% from the same period last year.

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

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

Analysis of bank figures shows victims tricked into sending money directly to fraudsters lost £ 834million between January last year and last July. Only £ 357million has been repaid.

“Authorized push payment” scams include fake parcel delivery text messages sent to cell phones as online shopping exploded in door-to-door orders.

Criminals also took advantage of the vaccine rollout to trick individuals into giving up their personal information and took on loners with romantic drawbacks.

Another £ 1.2bn has been lost to unauthorized fraud, where criminals armed with personal bank details use savings accounts.

Authorities recorded 4.6 million cases of fraud between January last year and June this year. The situation is now so serious that the banks are saying it is 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 Stop Scams UK campaign group. Money Mail’s Stop the Bank Scammers campaign called on ministers and banks to do more.

'Authorized push payment' scams include fake parcel delivery text messages sent to mobile phones as online shopping exploded under door-to-door orders

‘Authorized push payment’ scams include fake parcel delivery text messages sent to mobile phones as online shopping exploded under door-to-door orders

But since the campaign launched three years ago, fraudsters have been allowed to continue to steal ever-increasing amounts.

Writing in Today’s Mail, Rip Off Britain presenter Angela Rippon supports our guide to fraud and says it is imperative that the government act 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 scammers look for in their next potential victim. Your defenses are already down.

Most banks signed up to a fraud refund code in 2019 and have pledged to ensure that no blameless victims of transfer scams are left behind.

Yet the most recent figures from the banking industry show that less than half of the money lost to transfer scams during the 18-month period has been returned.

Campaigners also pushed the government to hold internet giants accountable for hosting investment fraud websites that cost victims more than £ 240million during the pandemic.

Gareth Shaw, from consumer lobby group Which ?, said: “We have seen online platforms allowing fraudsters to operate with impunity.

“It is clear that the laws and regulations currently in place to protect consumers are simply not suited for their purpose.”

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