Britain has been named the fraud capital of the world, with Brits losing almost £3bn to scammers, according to the Daily Mail. From April 2021 to May 2022, there have been 383,132 reported fraud cases, culminating in losses of £2.9 billion, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
However, reported fraud is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, with many people failing to report scams because they don’t realise they can get money back from a scam. According to research by Crowe UK, in conjunction with the University of Portsmouth, fraud is actually estimated to cost individuals and businesses in the UK a staggering £137 billion a year.
So why is Britain a global hotspot for fraud?
Faster Payment Infrastructure
The UK’s faster payment system, which operates 24 hours per day / 365 days per year, facilitates real-time payments. This makes it easy for ‘smash and grab’ scammers to access their victims’ cash immediately and move the funds almost instantaneously.
Use of English
English, which is widely spoken by foreign-based scammers, makes the UK the perfect stomping ground for fraudsters.
Disjointed fraud response
In the UK there is a multitude of police, governmental and other official bodies tasked with tackling fraud which makes the potential response disjointed.
Despite fraud being referred to as a ‘national crisis’, only 2% of police officers in England and Wales were dedicated to investigating fraud last year (Source: Social Market Foundation).
Low prosecution rate
Only one in 1,000 reports of fraud resulted in a charge last year. Cross jurisdictional issues in the digital age also make it extremely difficult to police.
A perfect storm
Sadly, due to the reasons cited above, the UK makes a perfect test bed for scammers honing their scams, before moving their fraud operations to other countries around the world.
What can be done to tackle fraud in the UK?
In response to the findings, the national newspaper is demanding:
- The appointment of a fraud minister, and a single agency, dedicated to tackling fraud
- Investment in policing to ensure fraud is prioritised
- Mandatory bank reimbursement and greater protection for vulnerable customers
- Reimbursement by tech companies and fines for those who fail to crack down on scammers on their platforms
Commenting on the latest fraud statistics, Ryan Beeley, a fraud solicitor at CEL Solicitors, said: “The UK is haemorrhaging money at an alarming rate with truly devastating consequences. £2.9 billion, which I’ve no doubt is the tip of the iceberg, already puts us ahead of other western economies when it comes to money lost to scammers. We see, first-hand, the impact this crime has on its victims with our clients losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and in some cases, millions of pounds, in incredibly sophisticated scams. It’s all too easy for scammers right now and more needs to be done to protect the British public.”