The annual Fraudscape report by fraud prevention service Cifas revealed more than 300,000 cases of fraudulent conduct in the UK last year.

Key findings from the Fraudscape report include:

  • Identity fraud continued to rise, hitting an all-time high of 174,523 cases in 2017 (up 1% from 2016). 95% of these cases involved the impersonation of an innocent victim
  • Eight out of 10 fraudulent applications were made online
  • There was a 27% increase in 14-24 year old's becoming ‘money mules’ 
  • Overall bank accounts identified as being used as ‘mule’ accounts were up by 11%
  • More than a third of bank account takeover victims were more than 60-years-old
  • Organizations successfully prevented over £1.3 billion in fraud losses through non-competitive data sharing

The number of identity frauds increased once again in 2017, with almost 175,000 cases recorded. Although this was only a 1% increase compared with 2016, it’s a 125% increase compared with 10 years ago. The difference this year, over previous years, is that the increase is not down to increases in fraudulent applications for plastic cards and bank accounts, the report said, which are the products most frequently targeted by identity fraudster, but due to targeting of other sectors such as telecoms, online retail and insurance.

This ‘retargeting’ by identity fraudsters, said the report, can be seen as a shift towards more accessible products, such as mobile phone contracts, online retail accounts, retail credit loans and short-term loans.

Also increasing last year was the number of money mules – individuals who allow their bank account to be used to facilitate the movement of illegal funds – a form of money laundering. Individuals are being targeted online by criminals promising ‘easy cash’, or encouraged by an acquaintance to transfer funds for them in exchange for a payment. 

In 2017, Cifas members identified almost 11% more bank accounts that bear the hallmarks of money mule activity than they did in 2016 – more than 32,000 cases. Criminals are continuing to target younger people – the report said – there was a 27% growth in the number of people aged 14-24 that have been identified as carrying out this type of fraud.

The findings also reveal that more than a third of victims of bank account takeovers were more than 60 years old, the report noted, so age is a key consideration for facility hijackers when selecting who they target.