At St Pauls Chambers, we’re here to offer expert advice in all manners of fraud cases, including bank fraud. The bank fraud investigation process can often be complex and stressful, so we’re going to cover the standard stages of the process so you know what to expect and how to prepare.
What is Bank Fraud?
Bank fraud is a term applied to any criminal incident where someone targets an individual or a bank by stealing money. Typically, the perpetrator uses an individual’s credentials such as bank numbers from a stolen/lost card or through identity theft.
But, it’s not just individuals who are targeted. Bank fraud cases also involve instances where individuals sell their bank login details to fraudsters who use these accounts for money laundering. There are several other examples of bank fraud cases and some of these include:
- Criminals committing bank fraud by using shop card machines to issue large refunds to their card.
- Fraudsters attempting to hack bank computer systems.
What is the Bank Fraud Investigation Process?
In bank fraud cases where individuals are being targeted, banks tend to follow a standard fraud process as outlined below.
Stage 1: Detecting Bank Fraud
The first step in the bank fraud investigation process is to identify fraudulent activity. Tell-tale signs of bank fraud include:
- Unfamiliar payments showing up on a statement
- Contactless cards can be used fraudulently after being cancelled, so it’s important to keep track of statements
- Unexpected dips into an overdraft
- New account opened in the individual’s name
These are things that might be noticed in regularly-checked bank accounts and statements, but sometimes such activity can go unnoticed for some time.
If the fraud is happening via identity theft, the victim might receive correspondence such as bills or letters from debt collectors. However, banks might also notify victims of fraud if they think there is suspicious activity on the account, such as unusually large payments.
Those who have been affected by bank fraud should contact their bank in the first instance either by phoning their fraud helpline or by going into the branch.
Stage 2: Investigating the Case
So, how long does a bank fraud investigation take? Once notified of fraud, banks take immediate action to ensure your card is protected by pausing or cancelling the bank card in question and issuing a new one if necessary.
Once the bank is made aware of the unauthorised payment, a credit card fraud investigation will be opened. However, in order to prove that the payment was fraudulent, the individual reporting the incident will need to provide the bank with relevant details in a disclaimer form. And, if the fraud has been going on for a number of years, finding evidence may require a lot of work. Once you have filled in your disclaimer form, your bank should contact you back within seven days to give you an update.
In most situations, the case will be analysed by internal fraud investigators, who will analyse the fraud process and determine where fraudulent purchases originated. If, for example, the investigator can decipher that the fraudulent purchase was made from an IP address in London, but the individual can prove that they were in another location at the time, that is significant evidence that the payment was indeed fraudulent.
Stage 3: Reimbursing Stolen Funds
Do banks reimburse stolen money? Generally speaking, banks should provide a refund for the individual’s stolen money in cases of bank fraud. This can take a few days, depending on the duration of the investigation. The only time your bank might refuse reimbursement is if they believe you were an accessory to fraudulent activity or were negligent with your bank security.
If you are unable to retrieve your money from the bank, then the only way you’ll be able to get it back is by taking the perpetrator to court.
What is the Purpose of a Bank Fraud Investigation?
Ultimately, the purpose of a fraud investigation is to return stolen money to the victim as quickly as possible and identify the fraudsters. Fraud investigations also increase awareness of types of bank fraud, improve understanding of how criminals engage in fraudulent activity, and shed light on the fraud process.
Banks are ramping up security measures to prevent breaches and are increasingly investing large amounts of money deposited into accounts to ensure these sums aren’t linked to fraudulent activity.
UK finance confirmed that £1.2 billion was stolen through fraud and scams in 2018. And, in 2017, almost five million people had money stolen from their bank or credit card account, according to The Independent.
If you are being taken to court for involvement in bank fraud, please contact our team of specialist fraud lawyers. St Pauls Barristers are experienced and highly skilled in fraud law and have a strong history of defending and prosecuting in fraud cases.