Impersonation fraud accounts for the majority of the losses victims reported during the coronavirus crisis. This emerges from an analysis of a bank’s customer data.
According to TSB, internal data from February 2020 to March 2021 showed that impersonation frauds accounted for the largest proportion of total losses (43%), followed by fraud (30%) and purchase fraud (11%).
The bank has its own Fraud Refund Guarantee to protect customers who are innocent victims of fraud.
TSB said it had reimbursed 99% of all fraud cases, from a 16 year old to a 97 year old victim, with an average loss of £ 2,360 per case.
Impersonation fraud can include targeting people who work from home during the pandemic.
Fraudsters can pretend to be an energy supplier or TV streaming services, for example. Sometimes they use information obtained from a data breach or social media to prove themselves legitimate.
Average losses for such scams are £ 4,084, according to TSB.
The bank has also seen an upswing in romance scams as people seek companionship during lockdown. Scammers will use dating websites to impersonate other people and make up “sob stories” as to why they are in dire need of cash. The victims are typically 50 to 70 years old, TSB said.
Secure account fraud typically involves criminals posing as a bank fraud department claiming that the victim’s account is “under attack” and that money must be transferred. In reality, the money goes into the fraudster’s bank account.
TSB reimbursed a customer £ 2,850 after receiving a call out of the blue and the scammer using Covid-19 to create a sense of urgency.
According to the TSB, many purchase fraud cases are coronavirus cases where scammers may offer masks, hand sanitizers, or other non-existent items.
According to TSB, one customer paid £ 279 for a coronavirus test kit that never arrived, while another paid £ 100 for a hand sanitizer that never showed up. Over the past year, TSB reported thousands of fake online profiles, scam reports, and links to online platforms.
In addition, all fraud cases are reported to the police. This is backed up by the information customers have received as a result of their fraud refund guarantee.
Ashley Hart, director of fraud at TSB, said, “During the pandemic we have seen an increase in sophisticated attacks on the public. Banks and other companies need to step up efforts to protect their customers and catch the criminals.”
Mike Haley, executive director of Cifas crime prevention agency, said, “Lockdown meant that scammers quickly adapted their attacks and targeted online platforms.
“The scale of these attacks is enormous – over five million suspicious emails were reported to the National Cyber Security Service in the past year. Scammers gain your trust by impersonating well-known brands through email, social media, and the phone.
“Some criminals not only use a brand’s logo to trick you, but also forge their emails so it appears that contact is being made through a legitimate email address.
“They do a lot of research before contacting you to convince you that their request is genuine. So be careful what information you share online.”
He advised, “Take your time before dealing with requests to share your personal or banking information, no matter how legitimate it appears. If you hand over your banking information and think it may not be real, contact your bank immediately. “