Fraudsters stole £753.9 million from UK citizens in the first half of 2021

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Fraudsters stole more than £4 million ($5.45 million) a day from people in the first half of the year, a rise of 31% from the same period in 2020, as scammers increased their activity, a report by a UK banking trade body found.

UK Finance’s 2021 Half Year Fraud Report found the scale of fraud throughout Great Britain has risen by 30% compared to the same six-month period a year ago, as criminals increased authorised push-payment (APP) fraud.

Through scam calls, texts and emails, as well as fake websites, AAP fraud sees criminals con victims into handing over personal data that is then used to trick them into authorising payments to an account belonging to the thieves. 

AAP alone spiked by 71% in the first six months of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020, to £355 million ($484.05 million), seeing the scale of fraud in the UK soar to a staggering £4 million per day. 

The UK Finance report detected that criminals tried to take a further £736 million ($1.003 billion) but improved banking security systems prevented those funds from being moved out of victims’ accounts into those belonging to the fraudsters.

“Fraud is now at a level where it poses a national security threat – as such, the banking and finance industry is calling for government-coordinated action across all sectors to tackle the issue,” UK Finance warned.

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The trade body highlighted that criminals have also altered how they move stolen funds to prevent detection and keep victims from recouping losses. Fraudsters have focused more on using so-called money mules, where individuals are tricked into using legitimate bank accounts to launder stolen money, as well as turning illicit income into cryptocurrencies. 

The findings come a month after the UK government highlighted its work to tackle fraudulent activity, citing how the National Fraud Initiative “is keeping nefarious fingers out of the public purse.” Since the National Fraud Initiative was launched 25 years ago, it has managed to prevent more than £2 billion ($2.73 billion) of money being stolen through scams, according to a statement from the UK Cabinet Office.

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