Nicola Sharp of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli considers the reasons for this.
Barclays has disclosed a six-fold increase in fraud reports made by its customers.
The bank announced that its customers made 2,699 reports of fraud in July 2020, compared to just 465 in July 2019. It said that while some of the increase could be attributed to changes in its reporting system, much of it was due to a rise in fraud after the end of the coronavirus lockdown.
Jim Winters, head of fraud at Barclays, said: “There has been a bounce-back effect from fraudsters kicking into action after lockdown ended. They have taken the time to reorganise themselves and to work out what the opportunities are.”
The bank stated that investment fraud has been increasing month on month. Those looking to commit it are attempting to convince people unhappy with savings accounts’ low interest rates to invest in what are claimed to be private companies, cryptocurrencies and unregulated products such as gold, diamonds and graphene.
As was to be expected during a period of such significant financial insecurity, there has been a steep rise in the number of people looking to exploit the coronavirus crisis to commit fraud.
Many of the frauds we have seen take place are traditional computer or telephone-based operations – such as investment scams and push payments - that seek to take advantage of those who are particularly vulnerable. The availability of voice manipulation devices and phone number scramblers is just one of the reasons why those on the frontline - including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and financial institutions - have had to quickly evolve in their responses to the challenges.
But there have also been new instances of frauds which have been tailor-made to the circumstances created by the pandemic. As an example, there have been many examples of the selling of personal protective equipment or hand sanitisers, which then turn out to either not exist or be of exceptionally poor quality. Such activities are placing further obligations on the authorities.