NHS COVID-19 fraud increased by 167% in 2021

NHS COVID-19 fraud increased by 167% in 2021

BioCatch, a global leader in behavioural biometrics, has announced that COVID-19-related fraud reported to the NHS surged by 167% from 2020 to 2021, according to information obtained under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act from the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA Copyright 2022).

The data shows that the global pandemic served as a new line of attack for cybercriminals to target the public, with over 1,069 reports of COVID-19-related fraud being reported in 2021. This is up from only 400 in 2020 with cybercriminals increasingly focused on capitalising from the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic response.

Fraudulent activity on NHS patients increased overall in 2021, with 4,022 fraud reports submitted. This is the highest number of fraud reports recorded, up by 60% since 2017. In total, this means that more than a quarter (27%) of the fraud reports received in 2021 were related to COVID-19.

Regular changes to guidance surrounding the response to the pandemic, including NHS COVID-19 passes, booking Coronavirus tests, ordering lateral flow kits and vaccine appointments have all been subject to a series of evolving fraudulent activity.

Although securing COVID-19 data, such as names, addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth, may seem inconsequential it can be used to gain the victim’s trust and secure more information, typically financial credentials. This type of fraud is known as social engineering, whereby a criminal uses personal information to enable a subsequent crime and is one of the fastest-growing scams in the UK.

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