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Fraudulent scams jump almost 80% in 2020 with victims tricked out of a total of almost €16 million, up 51% on 2019

  • Victims tricked out of an average of €5,300 via a wide range of scam types
  • Impersonation scams on the rise as fraudsters exploit Covid-19 upheaval
  • New FraudSMART research shows 68% of consumers reported being targeted by some form of impersonation scam in the twelve months to July 2021

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Wednesday 5th October 2021 – A new report published today by FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), shows a jump of almost 80% in the number of fraudulent scams in 2020 with victims conned out of €15.6 million, an increase of 51% on the previous year. The FraudSMART Monitor shows victims of such fraud, which include impersonation scams, romance scams and investment scams were tricked out of an average of €5,300.

The new report, which has launched to mark Fraud Awareness Week with, also highlights the sharp rise in impersonation scams as fraudsters have sought to exploit the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. These scams occur when the fraudster pretends to be from a legitimate organisation or business to get sensitive information or money from the victim.

New FraudSMART research shows some 68% of consumers reported being targeted by some form of impersonation scam in the twelve months to July 2021, with the figures rising to 83% among 18-24 year olds.

When asked who the fraudster was pretending to be, more than half (56%) said a government department or agency including the Revenue Commissioners or Gardaí, while 36% said the fraudster was pretending to be from a bank. Almost one in five said the fraudster pretended to be from a delivery company.

Despite the widespread adoption of online and mobile solutions, 72% of respondents contacted by fraudsters saying they were contacted by phone, almost twice as many as reported being contacted by email (37%). Some 32% reported being contacted via text message.

While scammers aim to pressure or frighten potential victims into handing over money, encouragingly the research shows that some 70% of respondents did nothing when contacted. Only 6% clicked on a link in an email, while 3% provided personal or account information and 2% provided bank or credit card details.

Highlighting the sharp rise in impersonation scam activity during Covid some 83% of consumers reported that impersonation scams are more prevalent in 2021 than in 2020, with 68% saying they are a lot more prevalent. Potential victims were targeted through a range of communication channels and in various guises. Some even combined approaches, seeking to communicate through a mixture of emails, cold calls, follow-on calls, voice messages and SMS text messages.

Speaking on today’s report, Brian Hayes, Chief Executive BPFI said: “Fraudsters continuously update and adapt their tactics and tools. They can quickly identify and exploit scam opportunities presented by evolving consumer and business behaviour as well as the ever-changing economic and social environment.

Banks use a range of measures such as encryption and continuous fraud monitoring to protect their customers and ensure every day payments can be made securely but it is important for everyone to protect themselves from fraud by being vigilant.

As we mark Fraud Awareness Week 2021 which is this yea focusing on education and information customers on impersonation fraud we are urging all consumers to be wary of answering or returning calls or responding to texts from unknown numbers. Always double check before clicking links or attachments in random or unexpected emails or texts and never give away security details such as PINs or passwords to anyone. If you suspect that you may be a victim of fraud, you should report it to your local Garda station.

We all face the threat of fraud but together, we can stand up to the scammers and stop fraud.

For further information and a host of fraud advice consumers and business can check out

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880

BPFI collects and collates fraudulent payment data from six members: AIB, Avant Money, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, permanent tsb and Ulster Bank. The data for scams covers authorised push payment fraud where a fraudster tricks a personal or business customer to instruct their payment service provider (PSP), such as their bank, to send money from their account to an account controlled by that fraudster.

About FraudSMART: FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) in conjunction with the following member banks, Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, PermanentTSB, Ulster Bank, An Post Money and Barclays. The programme aims to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activity and trends and provide simple and impartial advice on how best they can protect themselves and their resources.

About BPFI: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland, and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.