Property transaction deception is one of the key crimes being targeted by a national campaign to raise awareness of and reduce financial fraud.
New data collated and published by UK Finance for the first time revealed that in the first six months of 2017 customers sent £101.2m to criminals after being tricked by authorised transfer scams.
The new figures reveal the extent of the growing problem of criminals directly targeting consumers and businesses to trick them into authorising a payment.
Industry data shows there were 19,370 cases in H1 2017: 88% of this total were consumers losing an average of £3,000, and the remainder were businesses who lost on average £21,500 per case.
Where house purchase scams are concerned, brokers can help their clients not be exposed to these risks by informing them of potential scenarios targeting them.
House purchase scams often involve a fraudster impersonating a house buyer’s solicitor – typically sending an email which looks bonafide advising the house purchaser that the law firm’s account details have changed. The unsuspecting house purchaser transfers funds – often running into several thousand pounds to the fraudster.
Authorities including the government and UK Finance are highlighting that by falling foul of these scams customers can be left out of pocket with no chance of being refunded.
UK Finance warned: “Criminals use a range of tactics including invoice scams, house purchase scams and email hacking to target victims, and their scams can be very convincing.
“If a customer authorises the payment themselves, current legislation means that they have no legal protection to cover them for losses – unlike other financial frauds where the criminal makes a payment without a customer’s consent.”
The Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign has issued the following advice to help customers stay safe from financial scams with the key message “My Money, my info, I don’t think so”:
- A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you asking for your PIN, full password or to move money to a safe account;
- Never give out personal or financial information. Always contact the company directly using a known email or phone number;
- Don’t be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your details. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text;
- Always question uninvited approaches, in case it’s a scam.
Other fraudulent activity raised by the campaign included: requests to move money, invoice scams, identity scams, courier scams, scam mail, online shopping and auction scams.
UK Finance head of fraud and financial crime prevention, cyber and data sharing Katy Worobec said: “These figures confirm that criminals are enjoying a great deal of success targeting customers directly and tricking them into falling for their scams.
“There is no fast or surefire solution, but the industry is determined to crack down on these criminals on all fronts. Raising customer awareness is one weapon in the fight to stop these scams, which is why we are investing in the Take Five campaign.”