£616m 'stolen in scams' from UK bank accounts in six months

Photo: Xyz Pictures/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Over £616m was stolen from UK bank accounts in the first half of 2019, official figures show.

According to UK Finance, £408m was stolen by criminals through 1,385,447 cases of unauthorised card, remote banking and cheque fraud in the first six months of the year.

This is an increase of 2% on the first half of 2018, but a fall of £36m compared with second half of the year.

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Losses from unauthorised transactions on payment cards increased 2% to £313m, and cheque fraud losses rose to £29m – an increase of almost eight-fold.

This increase was largely driven by a number of high-value transactions targeting business accounts, with personal customers only accounting for a small fraction of total losses, UK Finance said.

Meanwhile, unauthorised remote banking fraud dropped 28% to £66m.

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One in nine Brits have been victim to a financial fraud. Photo: Getty Images

On top of this, £208m was lost to authorised push payment (APP) fraud – where customers are tricked into authorising a payment to an account controlled by a criminal.

This was split between personal and business accounts, with 53,475 personal cases resulting in losses of £147m, and 4,074 non-personal cases resulting in losses of £61m.

When a customer authorises a payment to be made to another account, even if they are tricked into doing so, current legislation means that they have no legal protection to cover them for the losses – unlike an unauthorised transaction.

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However, an industry voluntary code that came into effect on 28 May 2019 has introduced new consumer protections against authorised push payment fraud.

Banks and firms signed up to the code are committed to reimbursing victims of APP fraud, provided they have met the standards expected of them under the code.

Providers were able to return a total of £39.3m to victims – £25.6m of personal losses, and £13.6m to businesses.

READ MORE: 1 in 9 Brits have been victims of fraud in the past year

Investment scams are the most significant type of fraud among personal customers, with £41m lost to these schemes, or over £12,200 per case.

Purchase scams remain the most prevalent form of APP fraud, accounting for almost two in three (65%) of all cases targeting personal customers.

The finance industry stopped £820m of unauthorised fraud in first half of 2019.