UK financial scams hit record high in 2020, as fraudsters exploit Covid pandemic
Financial scams soared to a record high last year, as fraudsters sought to exploit the Covid-19 outbreak to target vulnerable individuals in the UK, according to new data from British bank Barclays.
Figures show that the number of individuals who were tricked by fraudsters spiked by more than 66 percent between July and December, with criminals using investment and impersonation scams to convince individuals to enter details on fake websites and transfer their savings to a so-called ‘safe account’.
However, experts fear the real number could be even higher, as a poll found that 54 percent of people who get caught in one of these scams would be too embarrassed to inform authorities about it.
The head of fraud at Barclays, Jim Winters, urged the public to be more vigilant to help to curb the actions of criminals, stating that “when you receive a suspicious email, phone call or text message, never assume it’s who you think.”
The report from Barclays will put additional pressure on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and police to take action to reign in scammers who have increasingly moved toward these white-collar crimes.
The data follows another report from the Royal United Services Institute think tank, which argued that cyber fraud should now be classed as a national security issue due to how widespread it’s become, costing the UK economy up to £190 billion ($260 billion) a year.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales reiterated these concerns, laying out how there were 3.7 million reported incidents of individuals falling victim to credit card, identity theft, and cyber fraud in 2019-20.