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Britons lose millions to fraud every year – how can you protect your money?

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An investigation by the Daily Mail reveals that scammers stole on average £200 million a month over the last year and was as high as £700 million in April 2022.

Fraud is the country’s biggest and fastest-growing crime, making up around 60% of all estimated crimes. Scammers can target people of all ages, but it is often elderly people who are most vulnerable. They may be too scared or embarrassed to report the crime, or not even realise they have been scammed in the first place.

To make things worse, it is thought that more people are being targeted due to the cost-of-living crisis. Emails claiming to be from energy companies or a Government department offering special rates or refunds can appear genuine – and if you are struggling financially, you might be tempted to click on a link.

The Daily Mail investigation concludes that Britain is now the fraud capital of the world, with losses per person being higher than in other major Western countries including the USA, Australia and Canada.

Highlights of the worrying statistics include:

  • £2.9 billion was lost to over 380,000 frauds, in a one-year period from 30th April 2021;
  • Around 75% of the UK population has been targeted by a scammer this year;
  • £977 million was stolen from people aged 70 and over in the last 3 years;
  • Only 1 in 1000 frauds last year resulted in a criminal charge.

The true figure lost to fraud is likely higher, as only one in seven frauds are reported to the police or Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

In response to the alarming and growing figures, the publication is calling on Government to overhaul the system, streamline the number of agencies and departments involved, make tackling fraud a policing priority and get banks to reimburse customers as a matter of course.

Authorised Push Payment (APP) Fraud is a type of fraud where victims are tricked into sending money to scammers, usually through real-time online banking payments. The money might be for an investment they have been offered, to pay a bill that is overdue, or to pay a romantic partner or family member.

Clever scammers gain the victim’s trust and use manipulative techniques and deception to persuade the victim to transfer money. Most victims believe the transfers to be genuine, so don’t realise that their money has been lost until it is too late. And many people are too embarrassed to report it as a crime.

There are a number of popular scams currently in circulation including:

  • Romance scams – these often involve meeting through online dating apps and then using manipulation to build a romantic relationship and trust with the victim. This then develops into requests for money by bank transfer or cheque.
  • Impersonation scams – cybercriminals use sophisticated techniques to deceive their victims into thinking they are their trusted advisers such as a solicitor or accountant, then persuade them to make payments such as an invoice or payment on account.
  • Dear mum/dad scams – where a text message comes from an unknown number, claiming to be your child who has lost/broken their phone, and asking for money. An example of this is given in the article.
  • Energy bills and council tax – with several genuine payments and rebates offered by the Government this year, scammers are stealing personal information by posing as genuine companies asking for bank details so that payments can be processed.
  • Investment frauds – victims are offered cryptocurrency investments or other schemes having been promised guaranteed returns.

The Action Fraud website is an excellent resource and gives helpful advice on preventing fraud.

  • Do not give any personal information like your name, address or bank details, to organisations or people before you have checked they are who they say they are.
  • Keep your computer software and security settings up-to-date and use strong passwords – never give anyone remote access to your computer or online banking.
  • Be vigilant for phishing emails – ones that ask you to click on a link to verify or complete bank details or personal information.
  • Look out for post, phone calls or emails offering you deals out of the blue, especially ones with time-sensitive deadlines – pressure tactics are often used by scammers.
  • Help elderly or vulnerable friends and family members stay safe too – teach them the signs to look out for.
  • Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Sadly, as scams become more sophisticated, people will always get caught out. It is important that you report any fraud to your bank, Action Fraud and the police. Your bank should carry out an investigation. If you are unhappy with their decision or do not believe they did enough to protect your money and your account, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), a Government-backed body set up to investigate complaints between financial institutions and their customers. FOS will look at the circumstances of the scam and your bank’s response and make a decision based on what they think is fair and reasonable.

Commenting on the Daily Mail investigation, Sarah Spruce, Head of TLW Solicitors’ specialist fraud claims team, said:

“These statistics are very alarming but sadly not surprising. We have seen a significant increase in enquiries from clients seeking refunds and compensation after falling victim to scammers.

What is most worrying is the number of victims who do not report losing out to these frauds often because they are too ashamed or embarrassed. Given our experience in this area, I would implore anyone who has elderly friends or family, or those who may perhaps be financially naive, such as students and young adults, to regularly check that there are no red flags suggesting that they may have been the victim of a scam. There are options available to scam victims and they don’t need to deal with this alone.”

We have a specialist APP Fraud team with many years of experience in successfully dealing with claims against FOS. We understand the time limits and processes involved and we can deal with complex legal arguments that might arise. We work on a no-win-no-fee basis and can offer you a no-obligation assessment of your case, to see if it is likely to be successful.

Please call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or complete the Callback form below.

It is important to get advice as soon as possible as strict time limits can apply.

Meet Our Team

Meet Sarah, who heads up our experienced Authorised Push Payment Fraud Claims team.

Sarah and her colleagues are on hand to help with your claim.

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