Britain has become the world's capital of bank fraud—and criminals' test-bed for new scams. It's enabled partially by Britain's instant electronic transfers (in the U.S. and elsewhere such transfers float for a day or so before being settled) which makes it hard to intercept fraud and recover funds. Moreover, fraud is weakly policed there. Fraudsters are more likely to be local, quietly working targets for months and even years while formulaic scams pursued from distant call centers get the attention.
The country's super-fast payments infrastructure, relatively light policing of fraud-related crime, plus its use of the world's most widely used language English, also made it an ideal global test bed for scams, the banks and specialists added.
A British record of 754 million pounds ($1 billion)was stolen in the first six months of this year, up 30% from the same period in 2020, according to data from banking industry body UK Finance, and up more than 60% from 2017, when it began compiling the figures.
That represents a per capita fraud rate roughly triple that seen in the United States in 2020, according to a Reuters calculation from UK Finance and the latest available Federal Trade Commission data.
I'm struck by how victim-blaming banks (and some media) are in the UK, too—surely another factor. Criminals know the banks are less likely to recover the funds, and victims know they'll be treated as the problem if they make a fuss.