70% of APP scam cases start online, UK Finance study reveals

Seven in 10 (70%) authorised push payment (APP) scam cases originate on an online platform, according to new research from UK Finance.

The banking body analysed 7,000 cases of the scam and suggested the figure highlights the internet’s significant role in enabling fraud.

UK Finance’s research also showed that most investment (96%), romance (96%) and nearly all purchase (98%) scams have originated online.

The money lost to APP scams totalled £479m in 2020, with proceeds often funding organised criminal activities. Last year also saw a jump in online-enabled push payment or bank transfer fraud with the research highlighting increases in investment (32%), romance (38%) and purchase scams (7%).

Impersonation scams, which have also grown significantly in recent months, were the only scams solely initiated via telephone calls and text messaging.

The analysis comes as the government published its draft Online Safety Bill this week, which will tackle fraudulent investment schemes posted by users on social media, but will not include the same scam when digitally advertised or set up through a cloned website.

UK Finance chief executive, David Postings, commented: “As more of us have shifted online because of the pandemic, we’ve seen a spike in money mule activity and investment and purchase scams because criminals can target people directly in their homes across online platforms.

“We were pleased to hear that the upcoming Online Safety Bill will tackle some aspects of fraud, but it won’t protect people from fraudsters’ online adverts and cloned websites.

“We encourage government to include all economic crime within the Bill when it is formally introduced. Not doing so leaves a large proportion of the public at high risk of being scammed online, because criminals are experts in adapting their tactics to exploit any loopholes.”

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