Fraud in the UK has risen to a level where it poses a “national security threat”, according to the main banking body, with £754m stolen from bank customers during the first half of this year – a 30% rise on the same period in 2020.

UK Finance said fraudsters had capitalised on the coronavirus pandemic, with criminals targeting children as young as 14 via social media to become money mules.

Losses from bank transfer scams leapt by 71% to £355m during the first half of the year – almost £2m a day. There were a total of 106,164 cases of such fraud, equivalent to 12 people being defrauded every half an hour.

There had also been a notable increase in the use of cryptocurrency wallets to quickly move stolen money outside the banking system.

Consumer bodies say banks often wrongly try to pin the blame for fraud on their customers. However, UK Finance said much of the criminal activity was now taking place outside the banking system,…

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