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With online fraud on the rise, Syedur Rahman of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli considers the scale of the problem

Author: Syedur Rahman  20 April 2021

Last year saw a record amount lost by UK consumers to online fraud.

Tactics such as fake texts about Covid-19 vaccines, lockdown fines and missed parcel deliveries, a 5% increase in so-called authorised push payment (APP) fraud – where people mistakenly authorise payments to criminals – and a 94% rise increase in fraudsters posing as trusted organisations were some of the reasons why people were defrauded out of a total of £479 million in 2020.

The statistics were contained in data released by UK Finance, the banking industry body. UK Finance cited investment fraud schemes as accounting for the largest proportion of authorised fraud; with £135 million lost to sophisticated operations that often used cloned websites of investment providers and banks.

Banks and other financial institutions were able to return 43% per cent (totalling £206.9 million) of authorised fraud losses to victims – a figure which is more than three quarters of what was returned in 2019, when a voluntary industry code on reimbursement came into effect.

Katy Worobec, UK Finance’s managing director of economic crime, said: “We are seeing a worrying rise in online and technology-enabled scams that evade banks’ advanced security systems and use digital platforms to target victims directly, tricking them into giving away their money or information.

“We urge the government to use the upcoming Online Safety Bill to ensure online platforms take action to protect customers by taking down scam adverts on search engines, removing fake profiles on online dating websites and tackling fraudulent content on social media.’’

Businesses, individuals and office holders should be cautious about the risks of fraud that have been identified. Companies should consider a comprehensive risk assessment policy in respect of their suppliers, customers and any third parties. This will go some way to reducing the risk of online fraud which, as the data shows, has become increasingly common.

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Syedur Rahman is known for his in-depth experience of serious fraud, white-collar crime and serious crime cases, as well as his expertise in worldwide asset tracing and recovery, international arbitration, civil recovery, cryptocurrency and high-stakes commercial disputes.

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