VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Help the police turn the tables on fraud

Fraudsters are running rings around us. As fast as one unscrupulous website is taken down, another ten pop up.

If we make our accounts more secure, they simply find an even more ingenious way to break in.

It was evident early on that scammers were attempting to cash in on the panic and confusion caused by coronavirus.

Scam victims lost a devastating £356.6m in July - almost quadruple the £92.3 million lost in March when the crisis began

Scam victims lost a devastating £356.6m in July - almost quadruple the £92.3 million lost in March when the crisis began

Scam victims lost a devastating £356.6m in July – almost quadruple the £92.3 million lost in March when the crisis began

From flogging fake PPE to posing as NHS Test and Trace representatives, there are no depths to which these monsters won’t sink. 

But it is only now that we can see just how successful fraudsters have been at exploiting the chaos.

As we reveal today, scam victims lost a devastating £356.6 million in July — almost quadruple the £92.3 million lost in March when the crisis began.

Cases also steadily rose each month from 22,785 in March to 32,658 in July — a 43 per cent rise.

Alarming as these numbers are, the cases recorded by national cybercrime reporting centre Action Fraud are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Many scam victims never report the fraud because they feel too embarrassed, or are put off by time-consuming forms and long call waiting times.

Even so, you can’t help but ask: what’s the point?

As the City of London Police Commissioner says on page 38, you are more likely to be a victim of fraud than of any other crime.

Yet fewer than one in 20 fraud cases reported to Action Fraud is ever resolved, and only a handful of crooks end up behind bars.

There are some victories. Earlier this year, 100 arrests were made following a clampdown on courier fraud, where criminals target victims on their doorsteps.

But if we want a real chance of winning the war on fraud, the police need to be properly resourced. Yet, according to the Transparency Task Force, we spend only 0.03 per cent of what we lose in fraud fighting it.

In the meantime, stay vigilant and warn friends and family of any scams you hear of — in the hope they can protect themselves against the most callous and common crime of the age.

Interest rate rage

Last week I invited you to send me your thoughts on TSB commercial director Andrew Davis’s remarks about interest rates not being that important to savers.

Your response was enthusiastic to say the least, and the consensus was unanimous: Mr Davis is not living in the real world.

Money Mail reader Elizabeth Gordon sums it up perfectly.

‘There are many pensioners, including my husband and myself, who have worked and saved all their lives so that we have a bit extra in retirement,’ she says.

‘Many either do not trust the stock market or have no experience of it, so rely on the interest from their savings to enable them to keep their independence, and not be a drain on their family or society.’

As promised, I sent your emails to Mr Davis and asked if he’d like to respond.

He declined (surprise!), but a spokesman assured me he was just trying to make the point that a good savings habit is the best way to grow your nest egg. But a little more tact wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Hapless Halifax

If there is one thing sure to rile me, it’s a ‘computer says no’ approach to customer service.

So when one Money Mail reader was forced to make three trips to his local bank branch because it would accept only ten bags of coins at a time, I could have banged my head against a wall.

Halifax say the rule is due to the branch’s storage capacity. Yet it added it could make exceptions for businesses, charities, children and vulnerable customers. So, really, it could have taken this gentleman’s coins . Numbskulls.

…and crazy Covid

Speaking of poor excuses for terrible service, I saw an amusing tweet by Jeremy Vine last week about a woman who was told she could not have two scoops of different flavour ice cream in her cone ‘because of Covid’.

What’s the best ‘because of Covid’ rule you’ve heard? Write to me at v.bischoff@dailymail.co.uk.

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