Money Wellness
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calendar icon01 Mar 2024

Impersonation scams are on the rise

New data from Lloyds bank shows that impersonation scams are costing people thousands, and have risen by 13% over the last year.

The data found a range of scams people became victims to, namely CEO fraud, or bank staff and police officer impersonation.

We’ll cover the different variations of impersonation scams, and how to spot them so you don’t fall victim.

What is an impersonation scam?

An impersonation scam is where a fraudster pretends to be someone else to convince their victim to make a payment or give personal and financial details to them.

The fraudsters will most often contact victims with a phone call, text, email or through messages on social media.

 Scams aren’t anything new, but scammers will change tactics, and with impersonation scams, many criminals will pretend to be someone of authority or from big, trusted companies.

 Some scammers will impersonate a friend of relative of the victim, coming up with reasons to ask for money, like being in debt or stranded with a broken phone.

 In 2023 victims of these scams lost around over £3,000, compared to over £3,400 during 2022.

CEO fraud

CEO fraud is less common, but it has the highest average amount lost of any impersonation scam. Victims lost £10,918 in 2023 on average due to CEO fraud.

This scam will see the fraudster pretend to be a senior member of staff at a company and they’ll contact another member of staff and ask them to make an urgent payment.

The payment may be an invoice they’re unable to pay, or they could ask the victim to buy multiple gift cards as bonus gifts for staff.

Police or bank staff scams

Of the 13% overall rise in reported impersonation scams, it was fraudsters pretending to be either police or bank staff which rose the most. It was the most common and the fastest growing type of impersonation scam.

While there have been increases, Lloyds Bank data shows the average amount lost in police and bank impersonation scams has decreased 31% over 2023, with victims losing on average £5,318, compared to over £7,700 in 2022.

 Bank impersonation

Fraudsters will claim their victim’s bank account is at risk, and ask them to move their money to a ‘safe’ one. They might ask their victim to download an app to do this, but what actually happens is that the victim is handing their account access over to the fraudster.

Police impersonation

The criminal in this scam might tell their victim they need help with a police investigation involving their bank, and ask them to move money to a different account.

Other types of impersonation scam

These scams include those where the fraudster pretends to be a friend or relative on Whatsapp, or someone from a big company like Amazon.

The scammers pretending to be Amazon or companies alike will usually be asked to fill in a form to claim back a refund or sort a problem with their account. If they click the link, this will let the fraudster have access to the victim’s personal data.

These victims lost on average over £1780 in 2023.

But scammers are becoming more creative with their impersonations and are not just relying on impersonating big well-known brands. During 2023, Lloyds Bank also saw reports of scammers impersonating tradesmen such as plumbers and gardeners.

Top tips to avoid impersonation scams

  • You need to be wary of any messages you get from numbers or emails which aren’t already stored in your contacts. If it appears to be someone you know, check the email address closely, as there may be an obvious slip up.
  • Your bank, police or any other trusted organisation will never ask you to move your money. They also won’t ask you to download anything onto your own device.
  • If you’re contacted and asked to fill in an online form to process a refund, contact the organisation using details specified on their website, or anything else separate from the form you’ve been sent and check the request is real.
  • If a cold caller contacts you, don’t download any software onto your devices, no matter where they say they’re from.
  • If someone messages you claiming to be someone you know, don’t be rushed into anything. Contact them in a different way to confirm that is them.

 

 For more tips on avoiding scams and what to do if you think you’ve been scammed, head to our outsmart a scammer guide.

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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