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Scams on Social Media Cost the UK £75 million

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A Freedom of Information request submitted by financial information and comparison website Good Money Guide, to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, has highlighted the number of fraud cases reported to the police in recent years and the overall cost to victims.

What do Google, Yahoo Search, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have in common? The answer is that they have all allowed information (in the form of adverts or posts) to be shown to potential investors, leading to people being scammed and losing significant amounts of money.

Fake adverts and accounts are rife on social media platforms and the latest statistics outline just how serious the problem is.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) is part of the City of London Police, just like Action Fraud. Where Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, the NFIB is responsible for analysing fraud data, tying together information from frauds in different parts of the country and providing intelligence reports to police forces and law enforcement agencies for investigation. The NFIB also has the power to close bank accounts, websites and phone numbers used by scammers.

The Freedom of Information request revealed that the largest number of scams reported in 2022 were on Instagram (1857) and Facebook (1193), both owned by Meta. In third place was YouTube, with 231.

The platform that people lost the most money through was TikTok, with an average of £138,472 per claim. LinkedIn was in second place, with victims losing on average £77,428 per claim, and YouTube was in third (£43,502). These are not small amounts of money!

The total loss in 2022 (almost £75 million) was nearly six times higher than in 2019, but it is worth remembering that these figures only relate to the cases that were reported. The true figures are likely to be much higher, as a Which investigation found; only 24% of fraud victims they surveyed in June 2022 said they had contacted Action Fraud.

Founder of Good Money Guide, Richard Berry, echoed what we have been saying for some time:

“It’s easy to stumble across social media posts offering an investment opportunity that seems too good to be true, and in 99 per cent of cases, that’s exactly what it is.”

Online scams continue to be a huge problem in 2024, and there is increasing pressure being directed at the social media platforms themselves to do more to stop it, including calls for them to pay compensation. Legislation already exists that requires social media platforms to remove harmful content, including scams.

Our blogs highlight popular online scams, such as romance scams, cryptocurrency scams, impersonation scams and investment scams. It pays to keep up to date with how online fraud can happen and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to a scam.

Most online fraud involves impersonation (of a business or trusted individual) or social engineering, with some relying on faked celebrity endorsement to grab people’s attention. These tactics persuade victims to send money by telephone or online banking using the Faster Payment System.

Sadly, it is often the case that scam victims don’t realise they have been conned until some time afterwards, for example, when goods don’t arrive, a romantic partner breaks contact, or an investment portfolio never performs as promised.

Real companies will never pressure you into making a quick purchase or investment. Organisations like banks or the police would never ask you to share personal information such as account login details. It is always good advice to take a step back, do more research, share what you are planning to do with trusted friends and family and reach a decision at a later date.

If you receive a telephone call out of the blue asking you to share personal details or download software to your phone or computer, hang up and contact your bank directly. And if you have been messaging someone through a dating app, would you lend money to them if you have never met, even if they declared their undying love for you?!

Speaking to friends and family or seeking independent financial advice can add perspective and save you from becoming a scammer’s next victim.

The type of fraud described here is known as Authorised Push Payment Fraud or APP fraud. APP fraud is so common that banks have now been told that they must do more to try and prevent it from happening and protect their customers. They must be able to demonstrate due diligence and show evidence of monitoring people’s bank accounts for unusual transactions, such as payments to new payees, overseas payments, transfers of large amounts of money, or repeated payments to the same account within a short period of time. Banks have the power to delay payments, to give them time to ask their customers for more information about the proposed transaction, or to block the payments completely.

If you don’t think your bank did enough to prevent you from being scammed, it is possible to bring a claim against them for negligence.

Scams have become so sophisticated in recent years, with tactics such as cloned websites and spoofed contact details designed to trick you, that it can be difficult to spot one.

If you find yourself the victim of a social media or other APP fraud scam, you should report it to Action Fraud, the police and your bank. Your bank should investigate and try to recover your money.

If this is not possible, or if you are unsatisfied with their response, other options are available to try and recover your losses, including making a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to look into your case. FOS is an independent body set up to settle disputes between financial institutions and their customers.

Sarah Spruce, Legal Director and head of the APP Fraud claims team at TLW Solicitors, says:

“We know that victims of fraud can feel ashamed or embarrassed that they were tricked into transferring money to a scammer and might not want to speak up or seek help. The Which statistic backs this up, as three-quarters of fraud victims didn’t report their loss to Action Fraud. But help is out there, and it may be possible to get some or all of your money back. Get in touch with the TLW team for a no obligation discussion about making a no win, no fee claim.”

If you, a friend, colleague, or loved one are the victim of a social media scam, please get in touch for a no-obligation assessment of your case. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning that if we take on your case and it is unsuccessful, you do not pay us anything.

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

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

Minimum case 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.