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Scams jump 66 per cent during lockdown as fraudsters take advantage of nation’s uncertainty

Scams jump 66 per cent during lockdown as fraudsters take advantage of nation’s uncertainty


Fraudsters have cashed in on the coronavirus lockdown and exploited the nation’s uncertainty during the pandemic with a flood of scams, figures from Barclays show.

Frauds, which could involve anything from travel, social media and investments, went up 66 per cent in the first six months of this year, according to Barclays Bank data on reported scams from January to July 2020.

The schemes show no signs of reducing as the amount of scams were up by a further 5 per cent in July compared with the month before.

Barclays said scams relating to investments went up by 49 per cent in July – the highest level it has ever reported.

This spike in investment scams may be because people have to wait for their deal to be completed, meaning these victims do not realise they have been duped until it is too late.

Jim Winters, Barclays’ head of fraud, urged people to remain vigilant as the nation takes steps to move out of lockdown.

He said: “Fraudsters have undoubtedly taken advantage of the nation’s uncertainty during the pandemic, in what is just another moment in the historical evolution of scams.”

Barclays said there was an increase in campervan scams, particularly on online marketplace sites, during lockdown.

It warns that with the summer holidays in full swing, scams relating to staycations are likely to increase as Britons take advantage of the good weather to make plans closer to home.

Fraudsters have used the increased number of people who have been online during lockdown to try to keep in touch with their family and friends to target victims in social media-related scams.

These con artists have taken Britons’ renewed interest in investing and saving as a new chance to carry out fraud.

Barclays says it has had reports of cryptocurrency scams during lockdown and warns this type of fraud looks set to increase.

People who have been singled out for these plots have been targeted with currency that does not exist or a bogus investment which promises to put money into a legitimate cryptocurrency.

Mr Winters said: “I would urge everyone that if they are ever in doubt and something doesn’t sound right, to take the time to check it out, or get a second opinion from someone you trust.”

Customers should never feel threatened or pressurised into making an on-the-spot decision, he said.

People should check if the website they are dealing with is genuine or a cloned page, Mr Winters added.

The Financial Conduct Authority has a register that customers can use to see whether the company is authorised to provide regulated financial services.

PA news agency


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