TERRIFIC new form of theft is helping fuel a £ 109million cybercrime wave.
A Sun on Sunday investigation today reveals that armed criminals arrest victims on the streets, force them to access their online banking app and transfer the content to “mule” accounts which are then emptied of their money.
This is just a new, targeted web-based weapon used by organized gangs, preying on the millions who have switched to mobile banking during the Covid pandemic.
It has increased cybercrime by 97% in the past year alone.
And although online theft is seen as the work of anonymous criminals operating from a screen, our investigation today reveals how it is spreading through our streets.
New Wild West
Experts blamed the upsurge in violent assaults on banks encouraging customers to move online, with three in five Britons having downloaded a mobile banking app.
Monty Munford, a tech expert who once lost £ 25,000 in a financial scam, warned: “Anyone with a financial app on their phone should know he’s been ducked up for the violent criminals who target more and more innocent members of the public. with violence and destroying their lives. Banks need to do more to prevent mobile apps from being so easy to exploit and infiltrate for criminals. “
The Sun on Sunday can reveal that police have faced an increasing number of road theft incidents over the past year.
In the most shocking case, a gang terrorized multiple victims in Manchester within 24 hours. One of them was told by the gang that he would be shot unless he handed over the PIN codes for his phone app.
The gang also targeted a teacher, telling him he would be stabbed or killed if he “tried anything”. His watch and phone, containing his banking app, were among the stolen items.
Police arrested Dean McDonagh, 20, and brothers Jack and Owen Parkes, 20 and 18. All three were jailed last September. Kirsty Walls, a senior crown attorney, later said: “It was a series of really terrifying robberies.”
However, the incidents are far from being one-off. It recently emerged that last year a cooler and terrified student at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent was held at knife threat by a gang for 20 minutes and forced to transfer £ 6,000 from Bitcoin.
Britain’s largest police force said it was facing a series of similar incidents in London.
Earlier this year, a 20-year-old man from north London was attacked on his way back from a pub, dragged down an alley and threatened by two men. After forcing him to open his smartphone banking app, the attackers demanded that he transfer £ 10,000 to another account. Fortunately, the victim’s bank was able to recover the funds. But thousands more are not so lucky.
It was a series of really terrifying thefts.
Kirsty Walls, Senior Crown Attorney
A review of fraud cases by the financial ombudsperson found that almost 60% of the money stolen was never returned.
He said the banks “inappropriately refused the refund”, “did not take into account all the circumstances of the scam” and “did not give reasons for their conclusions.”
Even victims who managed to recover money were only offered 50% of their losses.
The report, which covered major banks including Barclays, Co-op Bank, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Starling, also found stark differences in fraud refunds. A UK bank has fully reimbursed 59% of fraud victims, while two others have reimbursed one and three percent.
Yet, as fraud grows, so does our use of mobile banking apps.
According to the most recent statistics, 59 percent of people have a banking app, which is nine percent more than social media apps.
Yet this online shift is creating a new Wild West in online crime.
Internet fraud, where a criminal accesses a customer’s bank account using personal information and compromised passwords, increased 69% in the first six months of 2021, from £ 64million to 109 million pounds sterling. The number of cases increased 97% to 41,917.
Mobile phone fraud, where a criminal accesses a customer’s bank account through a banking app, is also skyrocketing. Losses reached £ 17million in the first six months of 2021, up 127% from the same period in 2020.
Experts say young people who struggle to find work during the pandemic are being targeted online by criminals who seek to use them as “money dumbs.”
Criminals are preying on the Covid generation and those struggling to find work by using bogus online job postings to recruit mules of money.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance
Fraudsters persuade them to “lend” their bank accounts so that they can launder illicit profits through them. According to UK Finance, which represents the banking and financial industry, more than four in ten cases involved victims between the ages of 21 and 30, with the number rising 76% in the first six months of this year, from 8,107 to 14 289.
Just this week the Sun on Sunday found a series of online ads offering up to £ 10,000 for mules to sign up. Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: ‘Criminals are preying on the Covid generation and those struggling to find work by using bogus online jobs to recruit silver mules.
“We urge everyone to be cautious of offering quick and easy money.”
24 HOUR FLIGHT SPEED
THIS three-man gang, left to right, brothers Owen Parkes, 18, and Jack Parkes, 20, as well as Dean McDonagh, 20, terrorized multiple victims in Manchester for 24 hours.
One of them was warned that he would be shot if he did not hand over the PIN codes to his phone app. A teacher was told he would be killed if he “tried anything”.
His watch and phone, containing his banking app, were among the stolen items.
All three were jailed for terms ranging from two years to four years nine months in September last year.
‘IT’S A GOLD MINE’
Richard Emery, 4Keys International fraud consultant
Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more cases of industrial style assaults where criminals get a victim’s bank credentials.
In recent years, and particularly through the Covid pandemic, banks have encouraged more and more customers to carry out their banking transactions online and through their applications.
This reduced bank overhead costs, but it clearly created a dangerous new gold mine opportunity for criminals, and banks should be doing a lot more to protect their customers from fraud.
The amount of money returned by banks is disgracefully low. For any such theft, banks are responsible for refunding any money taken from someone’s account without their permission.
Banks could – and should – do a lot more in this area, including introducing 24-hour payment terms to allow customers to approve larger transactions.