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Brits lose £3.2 million a day to fraudsters as ‘authorised’ scams rise | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

  • £1.17 billion was stolen last year – amounting to £3.2 million every day
  • There was a 50% increase in the number of people hit by “authorised” payment scams between 2020 and 2023
  • £36.5 million was stolen in romance scams – up 17% on a year earlier
  • 64p for every £1 stolen was reimbursed to victims, up from 59p in the £1 a year earlier

Laura Suter, director of personal finance at AJ Bell, comments on the UK Finance Annual Fraud report 2024:

“Fraud has dropped from its pandemic highs, but £1.17 billion was still stolen from the UK public last year – amounting to £3.2 million every day. While total fraud figures have dropped, we’ve seen an increase in the amount stolen through ‘authorised’ scams, where people are tricked into sending the money themselves, since before the pandemic. Between 2020 and 2023 there was a 9% increase in the amount of money stolen through authorised scams, but a huge 50% increase in the number of people being scammed this way. The figures highlight how scammers are targeting more victims for smaller amounts of money.

“In particular, romance scams have boomed in recent years, hitting record highs last year and seeing a 17% increase in the amount stolen compared to a year earlier. The amount stolen through romance scams reached £36.5 million last year – more than double the amount seen in 2020. What’s particularly heartbreaking is that scammers go back time and again to victims to get more and more payments from them – with the average victim handing over money 10 times. The fact that more dating is done online has opened the door for scammers to convince more victims that they are legitimate romantic partners – and the fact that many victims keep these new relationships secret for a while means that friends and family don’t have the chance to cast doubt on their ‘new partner’s’ motives. The reality is that a huge amount of fraud goes unreported, but particularly with romance scams, as victims have been emotionally manipulated and don’t want to admit they’ve been scammed.

“Investment fraud is still the most lucrative for scammers, because they are convincing people to hand over large sums of money each time. But the total amount the British public lost in these scams dropped by 5% last year to £108 million, following an even bigger drop in 2022. However, more people were scammed out of money – but each losing less on average. Some of this reduction will be because people simply have less money spare to invest following the cost of living crisis – and you can’t convince people to part with money they don’t have. However, as the pressures of the cost of living crisis ease these figures could rebound. 

“What is reassuring is that victims are more likely to be reimbursed by banks for their losses. A total of 64p for every £1 stolen was reimbursed to victims, up from 59p in the £1 a year earlier. However, it still means that more than a third of money stolen is never recovered, and victims have to stomach these often life-changing losses.

“These figures all have to be taken with a pinch of salt – as we know that the official fraud stats are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true scale of fraud in the UK. So often people feel embarrassed or ashamed of being defrauded and therefore don’t report it, while others assume that nothing can be done to get their money back, so it goes unreported. Anyone who has been the victim of fraud should contact Action Fraud and their bank, as they may be able to get their money back.”

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National Cyber Security