Criminals are adapting their tactics to take advantage of those spending more time at home and feeling vulnerable

It began with a text purportedly from O2. The message informed Stephen Frew that his latest payment could not be processed and asked him to update his card details via a link. Frew duly obliged. Within a week the £21,330 he was about to use as a deposit on a flat was stolen from his bank account.

He is far from alone. The senior hospital nurse, who is in charge of Covid admissions, is one of thousands to have lost their life savings in an online scam known as Authorised Push-Payment (APP) fraud, which has intensified as fraudsters exploit the pandemic to target stressed customers. Over £200m was lost to APP fraud in the first half of this year according to new figures from trade association UK Finance.

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