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£17bn Lost to Scams:
Research Shows the Scale of Scam Crisis in the UK

APP Fraud

Over half of UK adults have – or know someone who has – experienced a financial scam attempt in the last year, and 23% involve impersonation.

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One in two UK adults (51%) say that they or someone they know has experienced a financial scam in the last twelve months, according to recent research into scams by life assurance firm Canada Life.

According to the data, almost 4 million UK adults who were approached by a scammer went on to fall victim and lose money as a result; the apparent average lost by each victim was £4,715, amounting to a nationwide total of £17 billion.

One of the most common types of scams reported were so-called ‘Mum and Dad’ scams, a form of impersonation scam where criminals pose as a child or loved one and request funds to pay an ‘urgent bill’ or for an emergency payment via messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Contrary to popular belief, scammers are not exclusively targeting older, more vulnerable people; while those aged 55 and over were more likely to have been targeted (48%), 18 – 34-year-olds were the most likely demographic to fall victim AND lose money to scams (18%).

TLW Solicitors recently successfully claimed ‘no win, no fee’ compensation for a victim of a bank impersonation scam.

How do scammers actually get their hands on your money? They use Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, where scammers convince people to send money via instantaneous, faster payment bank transactions, using social engineering techniques, often involving impersonation and manipulation. It can take many forms, including:

  • Romance scams: where the victim believes they are in an emotional relationship with the scammer and sends them money for ‘emergencies’ such as flights, medical bills, and family tragedies.
  • Investment scams: where the victim is encouraged to transfer money for investments or to top up their pension pots and retirement income, often with the promise of ‘low risk, high return’.
  • Impersonation scams: where the scammer poses as a trusted individual, such as a bank or building society representative, customer service agent, or even the victims’ children, to convince them to move money into another account.

By the time the scam has been uncovered, the money has usually been moved on by the scammer, often overseas, and can be difficult or impossible to trace. If this happens to you, you should immediately inform the police, your bank and Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

Your bank may investigate the fraud, but typically, banks are unlikely to accept responsibility for the loss of funds this way, with the responsibility often being pushed back to the victim. However, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is reporting more decisions where it has found that banks could have taken additional steps to check that customers were not vulnerable to fraud and has instructed banks to refund victims.

FOS is a Government-backed body that deals with complaints between financial institutions and their customers. If they find fault with the banks, they also have the power to award compensation.

As industry experts, banks should have stringent procedures in place to safeguard consumers by:

  • Regularly monitoring accounts and transactions for signs of fraud, scams, and money laundering
  • Implementing systems to identify, delay or block suspicious transactions that may indicate fraud
  • Following the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s guidance on how to protect consumers from investment fraud

Sarah Spruce, Head of the APP fraud team at TLW Solicitors, comments:

“This latest research backs up what we are seeing with our own clients and, while the use of AI in scams is frightening, it is, unfortunately, not unexpected.

Through our own day to day experience of dealing with these cases, we know that our clients are often very embarrassed and ashamed to admit they’ve been the victim of a scam, these numbers show that they far from being alone, and the best thing scam victims can do is talk to someone and find out what next steps can be taken to help. That’s what my team is here for.”

If you, a friend or a loved one has been victimised by a financial scammer, then please get in touch with our specialist team for a confidential, no-obligation discussion. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis, so you pay us nothing if your fraud refund claim is unsuccessful.

Call us on 0800 169 5925 or complete one of the forms below.

Time limits can apply, and so anyone wishing to bring a claim should do so without delay.

Minimum claim values 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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