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World News

Banking scam shows we live in a fallen world says Christian leading national fraud research

by Donna Birrell

Detectives are contacting 70,000 people who are suspected of being victims of a major banking scam.

As many as 200,000 people in the UK may have been victims of the scam, with some victims losing thousands of pounds.

Professor Keith Brown is a Christian who leads national research into financial fraud and scams with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. He's been speaking to Premier about the case :

"Fraud is the crime of the 21st century, worth an estimated 10 billion pounds a year. We're not into burglary anymore, because we've got CCTV cameras, cars have got sophisticated alarms. So criminals are basically moving into the space of fraud and scams."

The scammers were pretending to be a local bank or building society and they were sending out 20 calls per minute - minute after minute, hour after hour warning of supposed suspicious activity on an individual's account. They would pose as employees of banks, including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, NatWest, Nationwide and TSB. They would then encourage people to disclose personal security information.

Some people lost thousands of pounds, with one person losing £3 million. But Professor Brown says it is the proportion of a person's life savings that has the biggest impact :

"It can be a relatively small amount of money, but if it's all your money, you're in real trouble, particularly if you're retired and you're elderly, and you'll never have a chance to get that money back."

The elderly and lonely are at particular risk of scamming, according to Professor Brown:

"What we know is that criminals are targeting lonely people. Criminals sell data on what they call a 'suckers' list (their term for the lonely). So I can go on the dark Internet, and I can buy the names and addresses of the local lonely elderly people in your neighbourhood. That's horrendous, isn't it?"

Professor Brown is also the chair of the NHS England National Safeguarding Board as well as running the Centre for Social Work. He says his faith helps him cope with his work which takes him into what he describes as "all the darkest places you can imagine.

"As a Christian, it reminds me constantly that we live in a fallen world. But it reminds me of my personal calling to be salt and light in society. I am heavily motivated by the fact that I can be faithful in difficult places. I want Christians to be there. I want God's love to be seen in action in our world. I started off as a junior, and 50-odd years later, my faith is now more profound and more powerful and more impactful. I'm daily amazed at the love of God in action."


 

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