This is fraudscape 2020

The flagship intelligence report from Cifas, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Community

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We are delighted to bring you this year’s edition of Fraudscape, which is key to understanding the challenges and threats we face as a community, and which areas we need to focus on to fight fraud together.

This report combines data from our National Fraud Database (NFD) and Internal Fraud Database (IFD), alongside intelligence provided by Cifas members, partners and law enforcement. In 2019, Cifas members saved over £1.5bn through prevented fraud losses, but we can prevent and detect even more fraud through better understanding of the key fraud threats and enablers, which is the purpose of this report.

Fraud is ever evolving, and criminals continue to collaborate. As a community, we must do the same.
Mike Haley
- Cifas CEO
Terms Explained


2019 saw the highest volume of cases ever recorded to the National Fraud Database (NFD).

364,643 cases, up 13% on last year, a rise of 43,001.

Identity fraud cases made up 61% of total cases recorded to the NFD, and additionally nearly a quarter of cases were in relation to misuse of facility.

2019 also saw a significant increase in facility takeover and the insider threat cases.

What do the findings tell us?

Identity Fraud

Cases of identity fraud rose by 18% in 2019 (223,163) compared to 2018 (189,108) and accounted for 61% of the cases recorded to the NFD.

Over the past five years, identity fraud cases have risen by 32%, with plastic cards and bank accounts particularly targeted.

87% of identity fraud cases in 2019 occurred via online channels and over half are granted before the fraud is identified. This is a prominent issue for identity frauds involving plastic cards or bank accounts.

A large proportion of victims of impersonation are aged over 31, with a 22% rise in victims aged 61+.

Key Enablers Cifas Commentary Victims of Impersonation Map

Facility Takeover

There were nearly 32,000 cases of facility takeover recorded in 2019, a 34% increase compared to 2018 (23,791).

Frauds against telecommunications products such as mobile phones, account for over half of cases recorded.

Frauds against online retail products such as online shopping accounts, saw a 100% increase between the two periods.

Overall, the majority of filing reasons are in relation to unauthorised security/personal details being changed followed by unauthorised facility upgrade.

A large number of victims are aged between 41-50 years old, a 43% increase for this age group.

Key Enablers Cifas Commentary Victims of Takeover Map

Misuse of Facility

There were nearly 84,000 cases of misuse of facility recorded in 2019 – up 2%, from the previous year. Bank accounts are the most targeted product, followed by online retail accounts where nearly all the frauds are in relation to evasion of payment.

The fact that 74% of bank accounts recorded this type of fraud may indicate behaviours that could be associated to money muling as these types of cases saw a 6% increase between 2018 and 2019.

Overall, 62% of subjects in these cases were males aged under 30 years old, with an increase in females recorded for this type of activity.

Most products are recorded for misuse within a year of being applied for.

The most affected region was London, which saw a 45% increase, with the West Midlands region also showing an increase.

Key Enablers Cifas Commentary

Internal Fraud

432 individuals were recorded for internal fraud in 2019 - up 13% compared to 2018, with the main cases involving dishonest actions by staff and employment application fraud.

The most prevalent form of dishonest action was theft of cash from an employer, followed by theft of cash from a customer.

Most of the staff involved were likely to have been employed between one and five years, male and aged between 21-30 years old. Most are from branches or call centres.

In unsuccessful employment applications, the most prevalent form of deceit was concealed adverse credit history.

False qualifications and false references have seen an increase between the two periods.

Most applicants were likely to be male and aged between 21-30 years old, however females aged between 41-50 have risen by a third.

Key Enablers Cifas Commentary


Identity fraud continues to grow, fuelled by advanced technological techniques to exploit members of the public and the way we store personal information and the risk of data breaches.

One of the key issues faced by the banking sector is the problem of money mules, and this has been exacerbated by recruiters using social media channels to target the public – many of whom don’t perceive their involvement as being a crime.

Facility takeover is affecting the telecoms and the online retail sector driven by social engineering techniques and campaigns, as well as spoofing attacks to facilitate harvesting of personal information.

Technology has played a key role in all these frauds, not only by providing ‘fraud as a service’ such as phishing kits, but also in terms of BOT attacks to obtain access to accounts.

The increase in internal fraud is driven by external drivers such as addiction and in many instances, by a lack of internal monitoring or processes and a wider anti-fraud culture.

Overall, many of the key issues that face the UK’s fraud prevention community are tied together by technology and the internet.

Together we must:

  • Pursue measures to increase our resilience to false or synthetic identities and associated documents.

  • Empower consumers and businesses to protect their personal information.

  • Evidence the harm caused and links to organised crime, to increase government and law enforcement action.

  • Raise consumer awareness that first party fraud is a crime.

  • Collaborate with each other on new ways to tackle financial crime information sharing.

  • Collaborate with social media companies and wider partners to tackle abuse facilitated within these platforms.

  • Raise awareness across industries around the importance of strong internal fraud controls within their businesses.



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About Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s fraud prevention community. For over 30 years we have worked with hundreds of organisations to stop fraud and our community is made up of hundreds of organisations from across the sectors, including most banks, credit providers and telecommunication companies. We lead in the fight against fraud by sharing data and intelligence, and provide a secure and established home for:

  • Trusted data of unparalleled depth and diversity - hosting the largest databases of fraud risk in the UK.

  • Dynamic intelligence to understand the fraud threat landscape now and in the future.

  • A vast network of organisations and people with a stake in fraud prevention.

  • Accredited education and trusted training for organisations and individuals.

For more information about Cifas visit