Scammers on the FBI’s most-wanted list have fuelled a record rise in bank transfer fraud. Victims are losing thousands of pounds every day, as criminals become ever more sophisticated.
Professional fraudsters, some of whom are wanted internationally, used tactics including impersonating investment companies and would-be online lovers to steal a total of £207.5m from almost 60,000 people in the first six months of this year alone, according to the latest figures from UK Finance, an industry body.
Victims were tricked into parting with £3,606 each on average.
Jack Warwick, a fraud investigator who goes by the name of Buster Jack, said people need to understand these are not one-off amateurs acting alone but highly-organised professionals who have been honing their skills for years.
“Some of the criminals I deal with are on the FBI’s most-wanted list. They’ve been kicked out of America, go to Russia and continue working with multi-million pound bounties on their heads. One scammer can easily have had a few thousand victims,” he said.
The total stolen jumped by almost 70pc compared to the same time last year, when £148.2m was taken from victims. There were increases in reported cases across all types of scams; the number of people falling victim to fraudsters impersonating legitimate organisations such as the police or banks, for example, more than doubled.