FCA investigates over 150 COVID related scams

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is investigating more than 150 Coronavirus-related scams.

The data, obtained by the Parliament Street think tank’s cyber research team under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals the extent to which financial services organisations have been targeted by financial criminals during the pandemic.

A total of 165 suspected scams have been reported to the FCA over the last five months, including email, phone calls, text messages, letters and social media.

In one of the scams, fraudsters pretended to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and targeted company owners seeking COVID-19 relief grants to help manage their finances throughout the crisis.

Other scams included a targeted effort to steal the log-in credentials of HSBC customers with business accounts, and seeking to obtain the passport details of financial services workers.

The figures come amid warnings that the rise in sophisticated COVID-related scams could leave financial services firms open to the risk of financial crime, especially with increasingly stringent Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation in the pipeline.

Max Worrall, general markets sales manager, at Encompass Corporation, said: “The pandemic has seen a rapid increase in the number of financial crime scams entering circulation.

“There have been numerous reports of company owners and directors receiving highly realistic scam emails, requesting usernames, passwords, and bank details from workers."

He explained that the figures are a reminder of the threats posed to regulated firms seeking to enforce AML measures and customer verification checks.

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