Impersonation scams more than double as criminals use tactics to steal nearly £130m in first half of 2021

·3-min read

Impersonation scam cases have more than doubled in the first half of 2021 with criminals using such fraudulent tactics to steal £129.4m.

A finance industry trade association said there were 33,115 cases - up from 14,947 in the same period last year when £57.9m was stolen.

Impersonation scams involve criminals pretending to be a trusted organisation such as a bank, the police, a government department or a service provider.

UK Finance released the figures at the start of Take Five Week, a campaign which it is hoped will help more people avoid becoming victims of the fraudsters.

The public is being urged to challenge requests for information and to take further action to protect themselves, such as reporting scams to their bank and the police.

Criminals trick their victims into transferring money using a range of cover stories. These include claiming they need to protect an account from fraud, that a fine or tax needs to be paid, or that a refund sent by mistake must be returned.

Research for the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign found nearly a fifth (19%) of people feel uncomfortable saying no to a request for personal information from a stranger via email or text, rising to nearly a quarter (23%) when it comes to phone calls.

Nine in 10 (92%) people admit to saying yes sometimes because they do not want to appear rude.

Using other phrases to avoid saying no, such as "let me think about it" or "I can't at the moment" can give criminals a way in.

Take Five fraud expert, Tony Blake, said: "Criminals are experts at pretending to be someone they are not - and can fool even the savviest of people, who don't want to seem rude.

"If someone contacts you unprompted and asks for personal or financial information, stop and take a moment to think - even if they claim to be from an organisation you trust. Only criminals will put pressure on you to act quickly.

"Remember, it's OK to say no and contact the organisation through a route you know to be genuine."

Philip Robinson, retail fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: "Fraudsters are sending phishing texts and emails to trick people into entering their banking details, then using them to get in touch and pretend to be their bank.

"It's easy for scammers to put fake logos to make you believe it's a genuine organisation, so never ever click on links or fill in your banking and personal details - this is walking into a trap.

"Your bank or a genuine company will never ask you to move money to a different account and if anyone does, it's definitely a scam no matter how genuine it may appear or what the caller is saying.

"Treat every email, message or call that you're not expecting with caution.

"Step back and think what you are being asked before rushing into anything or talk to a friend or family member first, and pay close attention to any warnings that may appear when banking online."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting