‘Best recourse’ for getting your money back amid HMRC ‘crackdown’ on scams

Woman describes how she lost £60k to mortgage fraud

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The government invested over £100million in the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce which is responsible for detecting and investigating fraud, especially those related to Covid support schemes. As well as fraudsters hitting taxpayer money via Covid-19 support schemes, there has been an increase in fraud targeting individual Britons in an effort to get hold of their hard-earned cash.

UK Finance found that UK bank customers have lost £754million to various scams over the first six months of 2021.

Losses from Authorised Push Payment fraud amounted to £355.3million over the period, an increase of 71 percent.

James Lister from Stevens & Bolton specialises in asset recovery and fraud issues and gave guidance for Britons on the best ways to avoid falling victim to various fraud schemes.

On the Informed Choice Radio podcast, he said: “There are now various banking codes that exist about fraud issues.

“A lot of banks are signed up to this code due to pressure from the government after the increase in Authorised Push Payment fraud.

“The best recourse for consumers is to go to your bank and to see if they’re signed up to the relevant code and to look at how you might be reimbursed by them.”

Authorised Push Payment fraud happens when fraudsters deceive consumers or individuals at a business, requesting they send a payment under false pretences to a bank account controlled by the fraudster.

As payments made using real-time payment schemes are irrevocable, the victims cannot reverse a payment once they realise they have been conned.

Mr Lister continued: “The ability of fraudsters to get into email accounts to impersonate other professionals means it’s incredibly hard to spot.

“We know of cases where hackers have got into email systems and made themselves look like the investment manager, or the solicitor, or the accountant and said, ‘Oh you need to pay this tax bill, or we need these funds so you can complete the purchase of a property’.”

When discussing how to avoid falling victim to such schemes he said: “First of all make sure you are double, and triple checking what you are being asked to do.

“If a text message contains a link that’s it’s asking you to click on, it is 99 times out of a 100 a scam.

“They key for most consumers is trying to establish a two-step authentication process.

“If you’re asked to dump thousands of pounds in your solicitor’s bank account for one reason or another.

“If it’s a lot of money there’s nothing that should stop you saying, ‘Can we have a quick Zoom, or Teams video to chat this though’ which will allow you to confirm the varsity of what you’re being asked to do.”

In response to the increase in APP fraud, Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, is calling on the UK Government to do more for bank customers.

Ms Worobec said: “Our latest figures show the sheer scale of fraud taking place in the UK and highlight clearly the need for coordinated action to address this threat.

“The banking and finance industry invests billions in advanced systems to try and stop fraud happening in the first place, but criminals are exploiting weaknesses outside of banks’ control to trick customers into making payments directly to them.

“This is why we are calling for coordinated action and increased efforts from the Government and other sectors to tackle what is now a national security threat.”

Furthermore, Mr Lister offered further guidance on ways to avoid falling victim to fraud. He said: “Even something more basic such as getting two step authentications on your emails, or your bank accounts. It makes it much harder for a scammer to get into these things.”

Presenter of the podcast Martin Bamford recalled his experiences with fraud.

He said: “I learnt the hard way about two factor authentication a few years ago I used my Amazon account on a public Wi-Fi network in a hotel and that was enough to let someone through. I didn’t have two factor authentication switched on at the time and I let some through who bought a load of gift cards on my account, and I lost a few hundred pounds that way.”

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