FOS warns of increase in ‘hybrid’ scams | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

The Financial Ombudsman Service has warned of an increase in ‘hybrid’ fraud involving romance, purchase, and cryptocurrency scams.

FOS issued the warning following the publication of its complaints data for the 2022/23 financial year.

It showed that the ombudsman received 21,918 fraud and scam complaints, up by almost a fifth when compared to the 18,450 complaints it received in 2021/22.

Of these, 10,985 were about authorised push payment (APP) scams. This is a 17% increase from the 9,370 APP scam complaints received in 2021/22.

The FOS also saw a higher proportion of complex scam complaints with over a third of the APP scam complaints were about investment scams, up from a quarter in 2021/22.

It added that many of these complaints include an element of cryptocurrency.

The ombudsman said it is now seeing increasing numbers of complaints which contain the features of more than one scam.

‘Hybrid’ scams are now common in romance scams, purchase scams, and ‘safe account’ scams.

The romance scam is when a fraudster meets their victim on a dating website and eventually the victim believes they are in a relationship with them.

The fraudster then persuades them to invest in cryptocurrency which does not exist.

And in buying goods that do not exist scam victims will attempt to make a bank transfer to purchase goods they have seen online that which do not exist.

Then the fraudster tells them the payment is unsuccessful.

After receiving this information, the victim will receive either a text or phone call from a fraudster impersonating their bank.

The victim often makes multiple payments to the fraudster because someone pretending to be their bank is telling them that their payments are not going through.

‘Safe account’ scams involve fraudsters impersonating reputable companies such as the customer’s bank or the FCA and telling their victims to move money to cryptocurrency accounts for safe keeping.

Ombudsman director at FOS Pat Hurley said: “Fraud is not just a financial crime – it can have a profound emotional impact too. We continue to receive hundreds of complaints a week from victims of fraud and scams.

“We are beginning to see more hybrid scams compared to a year ago. Fraudsters are always trying to stay ahead of the game by evolving their methods of scamming consumers and people should be extra vigilant.

“The FOS is free for consumers and, if you think you have been treated unfairly by your bank, you should complain to the business first and then get in contact with our service, and we’ll see if we can help.”

The uphold rate for fraud continues to remain higher than FOS’s average for all financial products and services, which is 35%.

While the uphold rate for all fraud and scams, including APP scams, chip and pin fraud, ID theft and disputed transactions, is 45%.

And the uphold rate for APP scams is higher at 54%.

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National Cyber Security