Personal Finance | 1 December 2023

Watch Now: Fraud – It couldn’t happen to me. Could it?

Three of the UK’s leading fraud and cybercrime experts joined an exclusive Coutts event to discuss how anybody could become a potential victim of fraud.

On Thursday 23 November our Head of Wealth Business Controls & Financial Crime, David Martin, sat down with three fraud experts to discuss just how easy it is for anyone to become a potential victim of fraud. If you haven’t been a victim yourself, you might be forgiven for thinking it couldn’t happen to you. Sadly, we know that people of all ages and every profession can become a victim of fraud.

So, knowing the bespoke approaches and psychological tricks that fraudsters use could help you the next time someone targets you, your family or your business.

Together the panel discussed –

  • The changing nature of data and how our information is targeted by scammers
  • The real-life fraud situation a client found themselves in
  • How fraudsters use online manipulation and social engineering to target you
  • How psychology is used to build a false sense of trust
  • Why there is no shame, guilt or embarrassment in reporting fraud
  • The advent of AI, deepfakes and fraud

If you fear you may be subject to fraud or are concerned about any aspect of a situation in which you feel vulnerable then please reach out to your private banker or call Coutts 24 on 020 7957 2424.

If you receive an unexpected call claiming to be from Coutts ask for your ‘challenge word’. If the caller cannot give this to you hang up straightaway. 

All calls with Coutts are recorded for training and monitoring purposes.

Although overall fraud has actually dropped slightly this year and banks are now blocking 67p in every scammed pound, fraud remains an ever-present and evolving threat. As Paul Maskall, Fraud and Cybercrime Prevention Manager for UK Finance, mentioned at our event, “emotional windows” are increasingly open for fraudsters to access as more and more of our personal data and behaviour is revealed online. Equally, scams disguised as fraud prevention are rising. 

Catriona highlighted why you should never give out a onetime password (or OTP) over the phone – “be suspicious of any unexpected request for payment – even if it’s a company you know or a friend or family member”. And, be aware of how little verification there is in the world for people trying to convince you of who they are, added Paul.

Behavioural psychologist Anneloes described how important it is to be conscious of giving away any details in a world where we are constantly asked to give up information online “before we know it, we leave quite a large digital footprint behind – it’s about thinking about ‘stop and reflect points’ at critical moments.”

That sentiment was echoed by Catriona – “stop, challenge and if you have any concerns protect yourself, that can often mean phoning the bank on a number you know”. Catriona also mentioned the Take 5 campaign and the importance of spotting the ‘CAUSE’ techniques used by scammers – 

  • Context (‘save money during cost-of-living crisis’)
  • Authority (‘we’re from an official body’)
  • Urgency (‘we need to do this now’)
  • Scarcity (‘this is your only chance’)
  • Emotion (‘playing on our behavioural vulnerabilities’)The changing nature of data and how our information is targeted by scammers

False trust and urgency are often exploited says Anneloes: “Fraudsters rely on the fact we’re human and act in predictable ways – they’ll target us when we’re vulnerable, tired and stressed.”

Finally, we also heard from a client who had fallen victim to a download scam, saying that “it was worse than having your house burgled and completely ransacked”, emphasising the importance of prevention and reporting. Though such events can be traumatic there’s always value in sharing knowledge and taking time to find out more: “vulnerability should never be a dirty word,” says Paul. “It’s part of being human.”

Our panel

Paul Maskall – Fraud and Cybercrime Prevention Manager for UK Finance (DCPCU)

With a background in law enforcement, intelligence, counter terrorism, cybercrime and fraud, Paul now works within the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) at UK Finance. Paul applies behavioural and psychological principles to the core of his work, and has recently appeared on BBC Crimewatch Live, Rip off Britain and BBC Radio 1xtra.

Catriona Still – Head of Fraud Prevention & Training (DCPCU)

Cat has worked in fraud prevention for over 20 years. Her current focus as the head of training within the DCPCU is to provide education and awareness sessions to the UK Financial Industry and its clients. Having seen barristers, fraud directors, police officers and politicians all fall victim to fraud, Cat’s team are dedicated to exposing the psychological methods criminals use.

Anneloes Hak – Behavioural Science & Applied Psychology Manager, NatWest Group

With a professional background in psychology and behavioural science, Anneloes is an expert in the emotion of fraud and human decision making. She leads the bank’s Psychology of Fraud research programme, providing insight into how fraudsters and scammers prey on our human nature and misuse psychology to build false trust. 


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