A scam every 15 seconds: Life with the con artists in bogus Britain

Katy Worobec: Financial Fraud Action director has urged people to be less trusting.
Katy Worobec: Financial Fraud Action director has urged people to be less trusting.
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FRAUDSTERS WHO “prey on people’s trusting nature”, carry out a scam every 15 seconds across the country, according to shocking figures released by a new campaign to tackle con artists.

There have been more than one million cases of financial fraud where victims lost money were detected in the first half of 2016, up by 53 per cent on last year, according to Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK).

The 1,007,094 incidents between January and June - equating to one every 15 seconds - include payment card fraud, cheque fraud and online and telephone banking fraud.

Now FFA UK has joined forces with major banks and financial services providers, to launched a campaign called Take Five.

It encourages people to pause and think before they respond to any financial requests or hand over any personal details. This pausing could be by stopping a phone conversation or delaying a reply to an email or text.

The Take Five campaign will be highlighted by banks in branches, on ATMs and on websites.

Campaigners also warn that almost a third of those living in Yorkshire think they will fall victim to financial fraud.

Research found that almost half (45 per cent) of those questioned in the region said that they do stop and think when asked for information by someone claiming to be from their bank.

However a fifth of those who do stop and think, still go ahead and provide their personal details. This is according to new research released by FFA UK.

Katy Worobec, director of FFA UK, said their campaign aims to “empower people to take back control of conversations and not feel that they’ve got to listen politely while someone cons them out of their money”.

She said in some cases fraudsters pose on the phone as police officers and pretend the victim’s account is at risk, telling them they need to urgently transfer their money into a “safe account” that really belongs to the criminal. Con artists will also send texts and emails pretending to be from their victim’s bank. Sometimes fraudsters even send couriers to a victim’s home to collect bank cards.

Ms Worobec said people should not feel under pressure and “react by doing something you wouldn’t normally do if you were to stop and think about it”.

The campaign was launched as separate figures show more than four million people were forced to cancel credit or debit cards after falling victim to fraud in the last year.

A survey of more than 2,000 adults in the UK found one in 10 were targeted by scams that meant they had to replace their cards.

In 62 per cent of cases, money was successfully removed from the account, with an average of £475 stolen.

This equates to 4.5 million credit or debit cards being cancelled in the previous 12 months, with more than £2.1 billion stolen in total, according to comparethemarket.com, which commissioned the research.

Home Office Security Minister Ben Wallace has backed the Take Five campaign and said the impact of financial fraud can be “devastating on victims, with fraudsters using increasingly cunning and convincing tactics”.

Tony Blake, senior fraud prevention officer at the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, said: “Take Five is about knowing it is fine to stop a conversation or not to respond to an email so you can take a moment to think and take back control of the situation.”