Bank transfer scams up by 40% since 2018

The amount of money stolen by criminals who persuade victims to send them cash via bank transfers has increased by 40% on the same period last year, new figures show.

Known as authorised push payment (APP) fraud, the scam has netted criminals £207.5 million in the first six months of 2019, according to trade association UK Finance. This compares with £148.2 million stolen over the same period in 2018, although UK Finance has said the figures aren’t directly comparable as more banks now share data on APP scams.

APP scams occur when someone is tricked into transferring money from their own bank account to one belonging to a criminal. The lost money is then transferred to numerous other accounts, often abroad, and withdrawn by the crooks.

The 2019 half-year figure is made up of £146.5 million lost from personal accounts and another £61 million stolen from ‘non-personal’ or business banking customers. Financial providers were able to return a total of £39.3 million of the losses to victims, split between personal (£25.6 million) and business (£13.6 million) accounts.

A new voluntary code, introduced in May, means victims of APP scams are more likely to get their money back. The voluntary code commits banks that are signed up to it to a series of measures to tackle APP fraud, such as educating customers about scammers and how they work. It also says banks must try to identify customers who are at a higher risk of becoming a victim, warn customers when they’ve spotted a scam and try to delay payments while investigating potential scams.

Earlier this year, UK Finance set up a website to try to prevent consumers falling victim to this kind of scam – see https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/.

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