Cifas data reveals alarming 24% rise in under-21s falling victim to identity fraud

Mike Haley: CEO at Cifas

Mike Haley: CEO at Cifas

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released startling figures showing a marked increase in the number of young people falling victim to identity fraud. The new figures reveal that Cifas members identified a 24% increase in cases of under-21-year-olds falling victim to impersonation fraud in the first nine months of this year, which represents a significant rise from the same period in 2017.

The majority of fraud for under-21s related to plastic payment cards – such as bank, debit, credit or store cards – with 34% of all cases reported in that sector (a 79% increase in the past year).

Cifas has also reported a steep rise in the number of young people acting as ‘money mules’, with a 26% rise in reported incidences in those aged 21-and-under between 2017 and 2018. So far in 2018, 9,636 under-21 money mule perpetrators were identified in the UK by Cifas members. Being a ‘money mule’ is when an individual allows their bank account to be used to facilitate the movement of criminal funds. This is a form of money laundering which carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Cifas is now urging banks to do more to provide information to young people when they first open an account to warn them of the implications of becoming a money mule.

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, explained: “Our new figures are alarming to say the very least. Young people are increasingly at risk of becoming victims of identify fraud, with little idea of how to protect themselves. For all of us, as parents, teachers and responsible citizens, we have a duty to ensure we’re taking every opportunity to educate young people on the dangers of becoming a fraud victim – and, equally, a perpetrator of fraud. As the rise in money mules demonstrates, many young people seem unaware of the risks they’re running and the consequences it can have, not only for the individual concerned, but also for society as a whole.”

Haley added: “More needs to be done to raise awareness about the harm of fraud and financial crime. We’re calling on banks in particular to ensure that they are providing young people with the necessary knowledge to prevent them falling victim to fraud – or becoming fraud perpetrators.”

On behalf of the Home Office-led Joint Fraud Task Force, Cifas recently launched new lesson plans with the PSHE Association to educate young people about how serious money mule fraud is in the hope that they will think twice before getting involved. The lesson plans also provide young people with an understanding of the protective behaviours needed to keep themselves safe from online scams and identity fraud more widely.

PSHE Association CEO Jonathan Baggaley commented: “The alarming increase in identity fraud and money mule crimes highlights the urgency of educating young people to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world. The PSHE education curriculum provides such opportunities. We were delighted to work with Cifas on PSHE lessons dedicated to helping young people to avoid fraud and understand the significant risks associated with becoming a money mule.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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