UK fraud jumps 16%

27 January 2009

Recorded incidents of fraud in the UK rose by 16 per cent during 2008 as a tightening of the credit markets saw criminals turn to alternative methods of financial crime, according to a new report.

Fraud prevention service Cifas said much of the overall increase in fraud was fuelled by a 207 per cent year-on-year rise in facility takeover fraud - whereby a third party gains access to a legitimate account through phishing emails or interception of credit card details.

The organization's head of communications, Kate Beddington-Brown, said the "truly alarming" increase shows how fraudsters are adapting to tighter lending criteria by switching from fraudulent loan applications to breaking into legitimate accounts.

A lack of available credit has also fuelled a rise in identity fraud - although the number of victims has simultaneously fallen.

Cifas said this is because fraudsters are conjuring up fictional, yet creditworthy, identities rather than trying to impersonate real people who may still be rejected by lenders.

Peter Hurst, Cifas chief executive, warned: "With Britain now in recession, a significant rise in fraud is inevitable, as people turn to crime to make ends meet. These figures are just the beginning."

Cifas was founded in 1988.

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