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Phone scammers steal £130 million from victims in a single year

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Phone scammers take £130m: Crooks posing as banks or delivery drivers to make victims pay money have made a fortune this year, new figures show

  • UK Finance said counterfeit fraud costs consumers nearly £130m
  • Fraudsters claim to come from banks, delivery companies or the tax authorities to steal money
  • Phone users have been bombarded with thousands of scam text messages










Fraudsters posing as banks, delivery companies or the tax authorities have defrauded the public almost £130 million so far this year – an increase of more than double.

In so-called ‘imitation fraud’, scammers call or text people pretending to be from a trusted organization. Victims are then tricked into transferring cash – to protect their bank account from fraud, to pay taxes or a fine, or to receive an alleged refund.

Figures released by the banking trade body UK Finance show that in the first six months of 2021, losses from counterfeit fraud more than doubled to £129.4 million compared to the same period last year.

Figures released by UK Finance say cybercriminals cost consumers nearly £130m in the first six months of the year

Even Jim Harra, chief executive of the HMRC has been targeted by texting criminals

Even Jim Harra, chief executive of the HMRC has been targeted by texting criminals

Birmingham drama student Emmeline Hartley was ‘scammed’ earlier this year when she received a text asking her to pay £2.99 postage.

After paying the charges, she received a call from a scammer posing as the Barclays fraud unit, who told her she had been scammed and convinced her to hand over her remaining £1,000.

During the pandemic, phones have been bombarded with millions of text messages and calls from criminals. Even HMRC chief executive Jim Harra said he was the target of a call from someone posing as the taxman.

Earlier this year, Money Mail revealed how scammers are pumping thousands of SMS scams to random numbers using cheap technology available on Chinese websites.

UK Finance also said one in four people found it difficult to say ‘no’ to requests for information from strangers on the phone.

It added that there were 33,115 cases of counterfeit fraud in the first six months of this year – more than double the 14,947 reported in the same period in 2020, when £57.9 million was stolen.

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