The public is being warned about a sharp increase in fraudulent calls, texts and emails as new figures from UK Finance show the number of impersonation scam cases more than doubled in the first half of 2021 to 33,115.
These scams resulted in criminals stealing £129.4 million through this type of fraud alone over this time. In the same period last year there were 14,947 impersonation scam cases which led to £57.9 million being stolen.
In an impersonation scam, a criminal pretends to be from a trusted organisation such as a bank, the police, a government department or a service provider in order to trick their victim into transferring money using a range of cover stories. These include claiming they need to protect an account from fraud, that a fine or tax needs to be paid or an erroneous refund must be returned.
The rise in cases is being credited to the fact that Brits are too polite to say ‘no’, with research from UK Finance showing more than 90% of people said ‘yes’ to people on the phone because they don’t want to seem rude. A quarter of those approached for personal information on the phone feel uncomfortable rejecting people.
Tony Blake, Take Five fraud expert, says: “Criminals are experts at pretending to be someone they are not – and can fool even the savviest of people, who don’t want to seem rude. Only criminals will put pressure on you to act quickly. Remember it’s ok to say no and contact the organisation through a route you know to be genuine.”