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Legal insights & industry updates

| 1 minute read

Catch me if you can…

This isn’t a covid teaser, but the collective goading of the increased number of fraudsters operating amongst our midst. Latest figures show that in the first 6 months of 2021, fraudsters have tricked their way towards pocketing £754m from unsuspecting victims in the UK.

The statistics show an alarming upward trend in fraudulent activity. The figure for the same period in 2020 was £580m, a 30% increase.

Yet not all frauds are elaborately planned. Some are simply opportunistic. The best ones are simply simple.

Valuing the impact on fraud is not as straightforward as totting up the amount of money that left a victim’s account and made it into the fraudster’s account.  You may think that that letter inviting you to your covid vaccine can just be crumbled up and put into the bin at some point.  To fraudsters, however, that letter is currency.  It contains your full name, address and date of birth.  Personal data is a monetised commodity. 

Whilst many things have contributed to the increase in fraud, what is inescapable is the number of everyday activities which have moved onto online platforms. The digitalisation of our lives has become a breeding ground for fraudsters. From the mundane to the exciting, we are now, for example, doing more online food shops and having more virtual social gatherings than ever. Every time we interact virtually, are we simply allowing fraudsters an insight into our otherwise private worlds?

Fraudsters play on psychology and patterns in order to snare their victims. They love routine.  They are great mimics.  They seize opportunities.  Every step taken by a fraudster is aimed at lulling us into a false sense of security that everything is as it seems. 

In order to combat fraud, we need to be cautiously vigilant.  If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.  Where cautious vigilance fails, we need to turn to the appropriate tools and remedies available through the courts and law enforcement to attempt to undo the activities of the fraudsters and cybercriminals.  As fraudsters respects no one and no boundaries, we need the right people in all the right places to act quickly. The International Fraud Group is one such organisation set up to combat this global scourge.  Harper Macleod are the Scottish members doing our part to limit or avoid the devastating effects of fraud.

Fraud is possible when we leave ourselves vulnerable. Fraud happens when those vulnerabilities are exploited. Working together internationally is key in the fight against fraud and cybercrime.

The banking trade body, UK Finance, has described the level of fraud as a national security threat.


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