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. How does this happen, and what are the signs of bank fraud? If you’ve been involved in bank fraud, either as a perpetrator or victim, these are the standard stages of the bank fraud investigation process and what your next steps should be.
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. When the victim is an individual, the perpetrator typically uses the victim’s credentials such as bank numbers from a stolen/lost card or another source 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. Some of these include criminals committing bank fraud by using shop card machines to issue large refunds to their card and 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 bank fraud investigation process as outlined below. Banks who have, themselves, been targeted are ramping up security measures to prevent breaches and are increasingly investigating large amounts of money deposited into accounts to ensure these sums aren’t linked to fraudulent activity.
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 victim’s statement, or unexpected dips into their overdraft. These are things that might go 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 an unusually large payment. Victims 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
A common question is, ‘how long do fraud investigations last?’. 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. This is also generally when victims would call Action Fraud to report the incident and get a crime reference number.
Stage 3 – Reimbursing Stolen Funds
Do banks reimburse stolen money? Generally speaking, banks should refund stolen money to victims in cases of bank fraud. This can take anywhere from a day to a few days, depending on the duration of the investigation. The only time the bank might refuse reimbursement is if they believe you were an accessory to fraudulent activity or were negligent with your bank security. Fraud victims might take the perpetrator to court if they were unable to retrieve the money from their bank.
What is the Purpose of a 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 bank fraud cases, improve understanding of how criminals engage in fraudulent activity, and shed light on the fraud process.
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.