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Government Announces New Raft of Measures to Tackle UK’s £7bn Fraud Problem

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Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said new technologies had enabled cybercrime and fraud and the new measures will crack down on digitally enabled scams.

A number of new measures have been announced by the UK Government to crack down on cybercrime and fraud that costs victims over £7bn each year.

The announcement comes as a response to a staggering report from the National Audit Office (NAO) that fraud now accounts for over 40% of all crimes against individuals, and 80% of fraud is enabled through computer technology.

New Government measures

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced at the beginning of May 2023 that the Government’s new anti-fraud strategy would focus on three key areas.

    1. Stopping scams reaching individuals in the first place by:
      • Outlawing “SIM farms” which allow criminals to contact thousands of victims at once.
      • Working with Ofcom to prevent “number spoofing” in which criminals copy phone numbers from trusted sources (such as banks or service providers) to trick victims into transferring money. Ofcom is the UK’s regulator for communications, including fixed-line and mobile telephones.
      • Banning cold calls on all financial products to ensure that anyone who is contacted out of the blue about investment opportunities (such as cryptocurrency) can be sure that they are talking to a scammer.
    2. Bringing more fraudsters to justice by:
      • Launching a National Fraud Squad, led by the National Crime Agency and City of London Police.
      • Utilising the UK’s intelligence community and working more closely with international partners to prevent fraudsters’ activities overseas.
    3. Empowering individuals to better protect themselves by:
      • Investing £ 30 million into a new reporting centre to be operational in 2023.
      • Collaborating with technology companies to make reporting fraud online as simple as possible, such as reporting suspicious activity on social media within one click.
      • Giving banks the ability to take more time to process payments, hopefully flagging up more suspicious payments and stopping fraudsters from getting their hands on victims’ money.

Mr Sunak claimed that:

“Our plan will help protect you and your loved ones from these scams and the predators who perpetrate them”.

Fraudsters have been using digital technologies and connectivity to perpetrate their crimes more and more over the past few years, partly enabled by the COVID-19 pandemic forcing individuals online for their shopping, socialising, and even looking for love.

Scammers use a range of different manipulation and social engineering tactics to build trust with victims and ultimately to convince them to part with hard-earned cash and savings, usually instantaneously, thanks to same-day and faster payment systems.

Some of the most common types of scams that everyone should be aware of if they are online are:

  • Romance scams: when a scammer uses online dating apps and websites to spark a ‘relationship’ with an individual who is genuinely looking for love. The scammer will gain their trust before eventually making requests for money.
  • Investment scams: a scammer will often approach a victim out of the blue, or as a result of a fake enquiry form, with a ‘not to be missed’ investment opportunity. The victim will ‘invest’ and then never see their money again.
  • Impersonation scams: the fraudster will pose as a trusted individual or service provider – such as your bank, internet provider, solicitor, or even a family member – so you are less likely to question their identity before you transfer money to them.
  • Cryptocurrency scams: like investment scams, the victim will be approached with regards to an ‘incredible opportunity’, but often the scammer is just after access to money or your crypto wallet details.

Scammers have learned how to coach victims around the security measures put in place by banks and to convince them to authorise payments directly from their bank accounts, believing them to be for a legitimate cause. Once the payment has left the victims’ bank account and is with the scammer, it is usually moved on quickly, often overseas, and becomes very difficult – if not impossible – to recover. This process is known as Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud.

If you have been targeted by an online criminal in an APP scam, the first thing you need to do is report the crime to your bank, the police and the national fraud reporting centre, Action Fraud. Your bank will investigate the report and, in some cases, refund part or all of the money you lost.

However, as the payments have been authorised directly by you, the bank may claim that the refund is not their responsibility and refuse reimbursement. This is not the end of the road for potential compensation, as you may be able to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for an independent investigation. FOS is a Government-backed body responsible for assessing and resolving disputes between financial institutions and their customers.

Sarah Spruce, Head of the APP Fraud team at TLW Solicitors, commented on the Government’s announcement:

“The steps the Government are taking to crack down on digitally enabled crime are a great start, and will hopefully work to tackle the types of APP scams that we have been seeing over the past few years.”

As the Prime Minister said in his announcement, “Often when you fall victim to a scam, people feel upset, panicked, or embarrassed about being caught out, or worried about whether they’ll ever get their money back”, and many victims don’t want to report the crime out of shame.

However, losing your money is not the end of the line and our dedicated, specialist team of APP fraud lawyers can help with your refund claim. We work on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis so you can be reassured that you will not be charged if your scam claim is unsuccessful.

You can call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or complete one of the online forms below.

Getting advice as soon as possible is important 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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