Fraud attempts increase by a third as scammers run riot during lockdown

Linda J. Dodson

Fraud has surged in the wake of coronavirus as scammers have used the lockdown to target vulnerable individuals and make fraudulent financial applications under their name.

Industry data, seen by Telegraph Money, shows that financial fraudsters have taken advantage of the pandemic to attempt to steal money.

Financial fraud has increased by a third during lockdown compared to normal monthly averages, according to a report by Experian, the credit referencing agency, and the National Hunter Fraud Prevention Service, a scam-fighting firm.

The biggest increase in fraudulent applications was for car and other asset financing, which saw a rise of 181pc. This large rise is likely to have been because scammers believe these firms are less likely to identify fraudulent applications. Current account and savings account fraud were also up sharply, followed by fake credit card and loan applications.

In some cases, criminals have used the names and addresses of real people to take out loans worth thousands of pounds. Other fraud cases involve scammers obtaining details which allow them to raid bank accounts and steal large sums.

Some banks have reduced their staff levels, which may have contributed to the increase in fraud attempts as scammers looked to exploit gaps in the system.

Micah Willbrand, of Experian, said: “The rise in fraud rates is a warning that banks, building societies and other financial providers need to be as alert as ever in identifying fraudulent applications, even in these unique circumstances.”

The increase in lockdown scam attempts is in contrast to general illegal activity, as official figures show that crimes other than fraud have fallen sharply during lockdown.

Data published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council showed that non-fraud crimes had dropped by 18pc in England and Wales, when compared to last spring.

However Martin Hewitt, of the NPCC, warned that citizens must remain vigilant as lockdown measures are eased, as there could be a spike in criminal activity.

Source Article

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