Losses from coronavirus scams hit £5m

More than £5m in losses relating to coronavirus scams has been reported to Action Fraud since February, new figures have revealed.

The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime said it received 2,151 total reports between 1 February and 1 June this year, with losses reaching £5,142,265.

In March, UK Finance revealed that the banking and finance industry had stopped more than £1.8bn of fraud during 2019 – a figure that had risen by 9% on the previous year – while more recently, TransUnion reported that one in 10 UK consumers had fallen victim to a financial scam relating to COVID-19.

Commenting on the figures published by Action Fraud, TSB head of fraud, Ashley Hart, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has seen fraudsters unleash an unprecedented wave of attacks across the UK with complex new scams targeting people at an already difficult time.

“We recognise that losses to fraud can be devastating. That's why our customers have their money returned to them in full – as we believe every innocent victim deserves all the support needed to get their life back on track again.

”Meanwhile, we continue to invest in technology and partnerships with police forces to target fraud, disrupt thousands of attacks and hunt down the criminals behind these scams.”

AJ Bell senior analyst, Tom Selby, suggested that pension savings remain an “obvious target” for scammers.

He added: “Given the profound economic and social uncertainty created by COVID-19, it was inevitable unscrupulous scammers would attempt to take advantage of the situation, leaving misery and destruction in their wake. Pensions remain an obvious target for fraudsters, so savers need to be alive to the common tactics these people use to pilfer their hard-earned retirement funds.

“AJ Bell’s own research found one in eight pension holders under the age of 55 would consider an ‘early access’ pension offer, with younger people and men particularly vulnerable. Meanwhile, one in 10 said they would consider accepting a call from someone they don’t know about their retirement pot.

“The apparent hubris about the dangers of scams leaves the door open to fraudsters to take advantage, particularly during a period of such extreme uncertainty. Ultimately it is down to individual savers to get wise to scammers’ tactics and protect themselves so they don’t become the next victim.”

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