The number of scams targeting consumers jumped almost 80 per cent in 2020, as fraudsters took advantage of uncertainties and unfamiliar situations prompted by the Covid-19 crisis, new figures from the banking industry show.

Victims were conned out of €15.6 million, a 51 per cent higher sum than the year before, according to FraudSmart, a fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).

It said victims of frauds such as impersonation scams, romance scams and investment scams were tricked out of an average of €5,300.

Its report highlighted a sharp rise in impersonation scams as fraudsters have sought to exploit the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. These scams occur when the fraudster pretends to be from a legitimate organisation or business to get sensitive information or money from the victim.

More than two-thirds of consumers reported being targeted by some form of impersonation scam in the twelve months to July 2021, with the figures rising to 83 per cent among 18-24 year olds, according to a survey by FraudSmart.

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