£28K lost to APP scams every hour

Fraud victims are losing around £28,000 to bank transfer scams every 60 minutes – more than the average UK worker earns in a year, according to research from Which?.

The consumer organisation said that while most banks have signed up to the voluntary reimbursement code on authorised push payment fraud (APP), which was established in May 2019, analysis of UK Finance figures show that between July 2019 and June 2021 a total of £854 million was lost across more than 300,000 cases with only 42 per cent of losses returned to the customer.

The voluntary code instructs banks to reimburse all customers who are not at fault and provide them with adequate support.

Which? gave an example of a Santander customer in his 80s who lost £3600 after falling victim to an impersonation scam on WhatsApp. A fraudster posed as his son on the messaging platform and tricked him into transferring money into an account.

According to Which?, the bank initially refused to make any reimbursement after weeks of investigating the case, “despite the sophistication of the scam and the victim’s age”. The organisation claimed that it was only after it helped the victim write a complaint letter that the bank agreed to give a full refund.

A Santander spokesperson said: “We have a great deal of sympathy for Mr Andrews and all who fall victim to the criminals who carry out these scams. Having reviewed the individual circumstances of Mr Andrews’ case, we have fully refunded the money transferred as part of the scam.”

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said that despite huge sums being lost to bank transfer scams on an hourly basis, low reimbursement rates based on what he describes as “inconsistent and unfair decisions by banks”, demonstrate how the voluntary code “isn’t providing the safeguards promised to victims”.

“While commitments to make reimbursement mandatory were a huge win for consumers, it’s vital that the government introduces the right legislation that will ensure victims get fair and consistent treatment,” said Concha. “The regulator must also ensure it is ready to introduce and enforce mandatory reimbursement rules the moment that this legislation is passed.”

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