FCA Investigates 165 COVID-19-Related Scams

Official figures show that the FCA have begun investigating more than 150 reported scams since the outbreak began.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) by the Parliament Street think tank’s cyber research team has revealed that 165 suspected COVID-19 scams have been reported to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) since the beginning of the pandemic.

Reported scams have been circulated by email, letters, phone calls, text messages and social media, and illustrate the extent to which banks and other financial services organisations have been targeted by frauds throughout the year.

One reported scam featured fraudsters pretending to work on behalf of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and targeting company owners seeking COVID-19 relief grants to ensure their businesses’ financial stability during the pandemic. Others involved efforts to obtain passport details of financial services professionals, and a scheme to steal the login information of HSBC customers with business accounts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rapid increase in the number of  financial crime scams entering circulation,” commented Max Worrall, General Markets Sales Manager at Encompass Corporation.

Worrall also noted that firms seeking to enforce Anti-Money Laundering (AM) measures and customer verification checks will also be left open to threats, as the processes involved require that the reviewing of personally identifiable information and documentation, which are attractive to frauds.

“It is therefore vital that companies have in place the necessary anti-financial crime systems, as well as the ability to identify and confirm that the customer is who they say they are,” he said.

The Parliament Street think tank is a leading UK research organisation that conducts analysis of major polices and produces papers on technology, fintech and economic trends.

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