Advance Fee Fraud Sees Tenfold Increase as Scams Get More Sophisticated

Josh Gunnell, director of fraud & ID at TransUnion in the UK, comments on the recent ONS fraud statistics: 

“The latest quarterly figures from the Office for National Statistics show that fraud, overall, returned to pre-pandemic levels at the end of June 2022. However, instances of ‘advance fee fraud’, where scammers request upfront payment for services that never arrive, have continued to surge – rising tenfold since March 2020 to 611,000 offences. This demonstrates how fraudsters are continuing to take advantage of shifts in consumer behaviour and the growth of online purchases and transactions.  

“The cost of living crisis also presents further challenges when it comes to cybercrime, as fraudsters are adapting their strategies to target consumers’ vulnerabilities. Our recent survey showed more than seven in 10 (73%)i UK consumers have been targeted by fraud amidst the rising cost of living, with scams including fake tax rebates, bogus energy discounts, fictitious ‘get rich quick’ investment schemes and phoney competitions. 

“Over three in 10 (31%) UK adultsi believe fraudsters are becoming harder to spot with more sophisticated scams and a similar number say more education is needed to help stamp out digital fraud. It’s encouraging to note that the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has recently set out proposals to give greater protection against authorised push payment scams to protect consumers against scam losses and reduce fraud.ii  

“Our recent research highlighted the great strides that have been made, with almost a third (32%)i of consumers agreeing banks and finance providers are doing more to warn people about new scams but it’s an ongoing task. Finance providers should take all necessary steps to minimise risks using robust fraud prevention tools and continuing consumer education.”


i  Research carried out amongst 2,000 UK consumers by an independent research agency on behalf of TransUnion in August 2022

ii Payment System Regulator, 29 September 2022 https://www.psr.org.uk/news-updates/latest-news/news/psr-sets-out-proposals-to-give-greater-protection-against-app-scams/