Almost £180m lost to impersonation scams as 45,000 cases reported

impersonation scams

Some £177.6 million was lost to impersonation scams last year, with more than 45,000 cases reported, according to a finance industry trade body.

UK Finance, which leads the Take Five campaign, highlighting the dangers of fraud, said there were 45,367 cases of this type of fraud in 2022.

The figures were released during Take Five Week (April 17 to 21).

Impersonation scams take place when a criminal contacts someone pretending to be a trusted organisation such as a bank, the police, a delivery or utility company, or perhaps a friend or family member.

Scams often start with a call, text, email or direct message with an urgent request for money or personal and financial information.

The campaign encourages people to take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or personal information.

It is reminding people that it is OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests – as criminals will sometimes try to pressure people into making quick decisions that they will later regret.

If someone believes they have been scammed, they should contact their bank immediately and also report it to Action Fraud.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “We receive genuine communication from trusted organisations on a daily basis, meaning it’s not always easy for us to spot when an approach for information is in fact from a criminal.

“Anyone can be caught out by a scam in the heat of the moment and criminals are constantly adapting their tactics to appear legitimate.

“It has never been more important to take steps to check for genuine communication and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and to stop, challenge and protect.”

Celebrity impressionist Jess Robinson, who has joined forces with Take Five, said: “We all think we’d spot the signs of a criminal trying to scam us but fraudsters have improved their tricks and are rolling out increasingly sophisticated scams.”

Many banks have signed up to a voluntary code which helps blameless victims who have been tricked into transferring money to a fraudster to be reimbursed.

Consumer campaigners have raised concerns about inconsistencies over how the voluntary reimbursement rules are being applied.

New financial regulations being considered by the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) will require banks and building societies to fully reimburse victims of authorised push payment (APP) scams, where the loss is more than £100.

Some account providers, such as TSB and Nationwide Building Society, offer their own customer guarantees around bank transfer fraud.

NatWest recently announced it was imposing cryptocurrency payment limits, amid concerns over rising numbers of scams.

It said a daily limit of £1,000 and a limit of £5,000 over a 30-day period were being implemented, to help protect customers from losing life-changing sums of money.

Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow attorney general, said: “It is absolutely right for UK Finance to advise consumers how to protect themselves from scams, but it is equally incumbent on the Government to prevent these scams from targeting consumers in the first place.

“Labour would take immediate action to stop scammers using UK numbers when calling from overseas, and we urge the Government to do the same.”