Taylor Swift and Olympics scams fuel fraud in 2024 – BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

  • Author, Charlotte Edwards
  • Role, BBC Business reporter

Fake Olympics and Taylor Swift tickets are the two biggest online scams consumers are likely to encounter this year, UK Finance warns.

The warning came as the banks’ lobby group reported that the number of people duped by romance and purchase fraud had soared to new highs last year.

In total, criminals stole £1.17 billion in 2023, down 4% from 2022, according to the group’s annual fraud report.

But UK Finance said the misuse of online platforms continues to leave people vulnerable. It called on tech companies to do more to help stop the scams.

Consumers lost £86 million last year buying scams where they agreed to pay for something that never materialized, according to UK Finance.

That was 28% more than in 2022. In total, there were more than 156,000 cases of such fraud last year.

“Every year we see a cycle of scams that changes throughout the year,” said Ben Donaldson, director of economic crime at UK Finance.

“Olympics and Taylor Swift are the two biggest examples this year.”

More than 600 bank customers reported losing money.

UK Finance said fraudsters often convinced victims to pay for goods via bank transfer rather than on an official site.

“Tickets for major events such as the Olympics, Euro 2024, Glastonbury or Taylor Swift sell out quickly and people often search online for better deals to avoid missing out.

“Criminals will use this as an opportunity to trick you into buying tickets that are fraudulent or don’t exist,” warned Andy McDonald of UK Finance.

UK Finance’s annual report shows some progress has been made in the fight against fraud, which is Britain’s most common crime and has increased during the pandemic.

It said the total number of cases fell by 1% from 2022 to around 2.97 million, with payment card fraud accounting for the vast majority.

The report shows that losses from unauthorized transactions fell by 3% to £708.7 million last year, a decline that the report says is down to improved customer verification practices.

UK Finance said less money was also being lost to scams involving authorization of payments.

Such losses fell by 5% to £459.7 million, while the number of cases involving criminals posing as banks or police fell sharply.

However, the number of victims and money stolen in romance scams, where people are tricked into believing they are in a relationship, reached a record last year, according to the report.

Losses in these cases increased by 17% to £36 million and averaged ten payments per case.

This loss is twice the amount reported for the same type of scam in 2020.

“The stolen money funds serious organized crime and victims often suffer emotional harm because fraud is a pernicious and manipulative crime,” Donaldson said.

New regulations will come into effect on October 7 this year, meaning UK payment service providers will have to reimburse customers who have fallen victim to payment fraud. But there are some exceptions to this rule.

UK Finance said the change made the fight against fraud more urgent.

‘As reimbursement rules change, we run the risk of even more money ending up in criminal hands unless the technology and telecommunications sector takes this on board [proper] take action to stop the fraud spreading on their platforms and networks,” Donaldson said.

How to recognize and avoid scams

  • Do some research into the company you are purchasing from and only purchase tickets from the venue, the promoter (such as Live Nation), an official agent (such as Ticketmaster) or a well-known and reputable ticket exchange site
  • Search engines like Google aren’t always the best place to look, as unauthorized ticket sellers can advertise their way to the top of the listings
  • Look for the STAR logo – this means the seller is a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers and indicates that the company has adhered to strict governance standards
  • Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if you buy them from a stranger. Credit card or payment services like PayPal give you a better chance of getting your money back if you fall victim to fraud
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails, text messages or advertisements offering incredibly good deals on tickets – it is more than likely that such offers are too good to be true

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