Fraud Awareness -

Festive frauds to be aware of this Christmas

This time of year is particularly busy for those getting ready for Christmas, but it is also a very prolific time for fraudsters.


9th December 2022




This time of year is particularly busy for those getting ready for Christmas, but it is also a very prolific time for fraudsters.

Criminals are not just targeting those shopping online ahead of the festive season, they are using a whole host of tricks and cons to steal victims’ money and data.

Over £3.9 BILLION has been lost to fraud and cybercrimes in the last 13 months across the UK

With over 1.3 million people discussing “fraud schemes” online [1], the experts at private and commercial bank Arbuthnot Latham have put together a list of scams to look out for and the most common types of scams people come across.

By looking at how much loss each scam resulted in and how many times the crime occurred over the course of 13 months, the data team was able to determine the top 10 scams across the UK.

Most common scams in the UK:




Cheque, plastic card, and online bank accounts


Other financial investment


Other consumer non-investment fraud


Online shopping and auctions


Other advance fee frauds


Dating scam


Pyramid or Ponzi schemes


Share sales or boiler room fraud


Computer software service fraud


Mandate fraud


There have been almost 28,000 reports of cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts scams reported in the last 13 months resulting in over £665,500,000 lost.

While these are the top 10 scams across the UK, here is a handy guide to some current fraud schemes going around.



Below is a roundup of some of the common scams in operation:

Delivery scams

Phishing attacks related to missed deliveries continue to be prevalent. These involve fraudsters imitating companies like Royal Mail, UPS, and EVRI who contact clients regarding a missed delivery. Emails and text messages contain links to websites designed to harvest your data.


Energy bill refunds

Fraudsters are utilising the cost-of-living crisis by imitating energy organisations or government agencies (such as Ofgem) with the false promise of a refund or rebate on your energy bills. Emails either contain links to phishing websites or links to malware which infect your devices.


Purchase scams

An individual is conned into making a payment to someone they believe to be genuine, often via bank transfer or push payment. This is often achieved using online adverts, social media posts, or auction sites where the goods sold do not exist.

Friend in need scams

There continue to be reports within the industry of fraudsters contacting victims via text or messaging apps, pretending to be a friend or family member who has lost or damaged their phone. Normally money is requested to either pay an urgent bill or get a new phone. A new degree of sophistication now involves the fraudster asking for the money to be paid to another family member or friend to make it seem more legitimate. The fraudster has control of this account and quickly moves the funds once received.


Investment scams

Be wary of opportunities which appear to be too good to be true. If you are being pressured into making an investment through a fear of missing out, or you are being promised high returns with little risk then it is likely to be a scam. Do your due diligence and search the Financial Conduct Authority website at for further advice.


With so many fraud schemes going on, the experts at Arbuthnot Latham recommend you follow the advice of Take Five - To Stop Fraud ( before making any financial decisions when you are being pressured.

Take Five to Stop Fraud

Criminals are experts at impersonating organisations, banks and the Police.

  • STOP – Take a moment to consider a request for a payment or disclosure of sensitive information.
  • CHALLENGE – Could the request be fake? Do you feel under pressure to act? Fraudsters will create panic to encourage you to act.
  • PROTECT – Never disclose One Time Passcodes or full security answers. We will NEVER ask for this. If you think you are being scammed, call us immediately.





Data from the NFIB Fraud and Cyber Crime Dashboard was assessed determining the highest grossing crimes, most frequently occurring crimes and they were then weighted to determine what the top 10 worst fraud schemes were in the UK.


[1] Source: Buzzsumo - data covers social media and search engine results

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