Fraudsters scammed £23.6m last year by tricking people into transferring money into false bank accounts

Neighbourhood Watch is hoping its army of 173,000 volunteers can help crack down on the crooks

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The Independent Online

Fraudsters have fleeced people of £23.6 million in the past year by tricking them into transferring cash into dodgy bank accounts.

Now Neighbourhood Watch is hoping its army of 173,000 volunteers can help crack down on the crooks and help people avoid becoming victims.

The volunteers will be asking their neighbours to share warnings about fraud. The idea is that volunteers pass on advice to at least three of their friends, so that over 2 million people can be reached by the end of the campaign.

The fraud works by the criminal calling and pretending to be from a bank. The scamster convinces the victim that fraud has been detected on their account and that they have to move their money into a so-called “safe account” or risk losing their savings.

The felons have a range of tricks to trick people such as “spoofing” the telephone number on the person’s caller ID display so that it matches their bank’s number, or referring to genuine account information which they have fraudulently obtained elsewhere.

Nick Mothershaw, director of fraud and identity at Experian said that the latest figures show how significant the issue of fraud is. Experian’s own research has shown a 15 per cent increase in cases of suspected fraud so far this year, compared to last year, with the most notable increase of 25 per cent among those aged 18 to 30 years old. 

“Our data also shows a substantial rise of identity theft over the past year with current accounts being the fastest growing targets for identity thieves – a growth that has coincided with the seven day current account switching launch,” Mothershaw said. 

Current account fraud allows thieves to create mule accounts to launder funds.  it also offers a springboard into related high value financial products including mortgages and car loans. 

If you think you may be a victim, contact your bank immediately and report it to the police through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.