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Within minutes of entering her card details, she got a call from her bank telling her fraudulent transactions were being made. The next day Robert Clayton from Britain's Financial Conduct Authority called to say they were pursuing the criminals responsible but that her savings were at risk. There was no toothbrush, though. No fraud department, no Robert Clayton. She is one of thousands of people who have seen savings swept away this year by an unprecedented wave of online bank fraud hitting Britain, where you're more likely to be a victim of online fraud than any other crime.

The country is the global epicentre for such attacks, according to five of the biggest British banks and more than a dozen security experts who said scammers were buying up batches of consumers' personal details on the dark net to target the record s shopping and banking online since the pandemic. The country's super-fast payments infrastructure, relatively light policing of fraud-related crime, plus its use of the world's most widely used language English, also made it an ideal global test bed for scams, the banks and specialists added.

That represents a per capita fraud rate roughly triple that seen in the United States inaccording to a Reuters calculation from UK Finance and the latest available Federal Trade Commission data. Data breaches have also accelerated, so there's a lot more personal information out there that criminals can take advantage of.

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Unlike simple -based scams of the past purporting to be from princes or oil barons seeking your help to shift their millions, the modern bank scam can be sophisticated, multi-phased and extremely convincing. Deena Karia, another scam victim, told Reuters how she lost 10, pounds in early February after buying a seemingly safe bond purportedly issued by Credit Suisse and apparently listed on price-comparison site MoneySuperMarket.

After filling out a form on the website and receiving a call from a staff member there, she called them back on the listed on the website to check the phone was legitimatemade further checks about the bond and went on to invest. Karia, from outer London, still does not know exactly how her money was stolen, but believes the scammers may have created a fake website mimicking MoneySuperMarket. The genuine MoneySuperMarket warned on Feb.

A spokesperson for the company said it is working to take down such fake websites and phone s, working with the FCA to highlight cloned websites and reporting issues to the police. Barclays, her bank, has refunded only half the money, saying she could have done more to protect herself. Britain's Faster Payments' network, which allows transfers between bank s to settle instantly rather than in hours or days as in the United States and other developed banking markets, means criminals can rapidly spirit away funds.

UK, which runs the network, said the system supported the British economy, consumers and businesses. It added that criminals were getting better at exploiting digitisation and that it was working with the industry and regulator to fight fraud. While security experts and senior bankers said many fraud attacks could be traced overseas - including from India and West Africa - Britain is also increasingly exporting attacks.

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Crimes such as authorised push payments APP — where people are tricked into authorising a payment by a criminal posing as their bank or other trusted company — are proliferating globally after having started off as a largely UK phenomenon. The country ranks second in the world behind the United States as a source of automated bot attacks, the fastest-growing type of fraud attack in the world, according to data from LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a financial crime analysis firm.

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Bot attacks see criminals use a high volume of stolen identity credentials to overrun a website, allowing them to set up new s or access existing ones. Britain's banks - which often pick up the compensation bill when people are scammed - are trying to respond.

TSB has hired extra staff to support fraud victims in the last year. But lenders are also pressing the government to make social media platforms, where they say some attacks originate, share the burden. British lawmakers told bosses at Facebook, Google, Amazon and eBay last month that they needed to do more combat fraud. We've got a mountain to climb. This means that criminals are emboldened to target people like Anna, who has little hope of recovering her savings. The fraudsters had told her to shift her "at risk" cash to an on a cryptocurrency platform that they emptied - while isolating her from family by stressing secrecy and coaching her on how to respond to sceptical bank officials.

This story corrects to 'widow' from 'widower' in fourth paragraph. Subscribe for our daily curated newsletter to receive the latest exclusive Reuters coverage delivered to your inbox. More from Reuters.

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Seeking long term relationship Flaws and extra pounds welcome

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