Scammers and fraudsters conned people in the UK out of £1.3 billion last year, according to official figures.

The banking industry group UK Finance pointed out that many frauds were online scams, with victims often left out of pocket as they had seemingly ‘authorised’ fake payments. The group warned people to always double check before sending money or revealing financial details on the back of unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be from a familiar company or organisation.

There was a significant rise in several different scams including:

  • Bank transfer fraud, where victims are tricked into sending money to an account controlled by criminals.
  • Impersonation scams, where criminals send spoof emails, or set up fake websites, purporting to be from legitimate companies including banks, HMRC, government departments, the NHS or energy suppliers.
  • Romance scams, where criminals approach victims on dating sites. These numbers have surged and can be financially devastating, with victims losing an average of £9,500.

There is particular concern that fraudsters are exploiting fear and confusion around energy bills to trick people out of money. Research by Which? found that in the first quarter of this year, fraud cases that mentioned one of the big six energy firms were up by 10% when compared to the same period last year.

If you are suspicious of any online activity, be on your guard and check with relevant financial institutions who will never ask you for your financial details.