Current account “misuse” rose by 12 per cent in the first eight months of 2011, as criminals targeted more existing accounts in order to steal money.
Figures released by the UK Fraud Prevention Service this week showed that most cases related to fraudulent cheques, with criminals paying in false or altered cheques that were credited to their accounts. A smaller proportion of the cases resulted from false electronic payments.
This rise in criminal activity has been attributed to the economic downturn – which appears to have changed the behaviour of both criminals and bank account holders. According to the UKFPS, one in five of all account fraud cases now relate to individuals who retain money paid into their account by mistake.
“Difficulties faced by the ‘man in the street’ may lead them to carry out actions that they would otherwise never consider,” said a UKFPS spokesperson.