Victims willingly give trusted criminals access to their personal information and funds, and lie to their banks.
Experts warn that this practice has contributed to the £580million stolen through fraud in the first half of 2023.
Dr Elisabeth Carter, associate professor of criminology and forensic linguist at Kingston University, told the Express: “Fraud criminals use language designed to manipulate.
“When they create a sense of normality, trust and safety, they subtly develop communication by submitting requests that are not a cause for concern, but catastrophically cause financial and psychological harm.
“We need to recognize that the victims of fraud and crime are not to blame for seeing this for what it is – a form of abuse that mercilessly exploits and uses unconventional rules of social interaction to hide clearly.”
Banks prevented a further £651million of unauthorized fraud from being slipped through advanced security systems, UK Finance said. But The Spell’s control often forces victims to lie to banks that want to protect them.
Ann and James, a retired couple from West Yorkshire lost thousands to scammers using The Spell.
They were being lured into a fake cryptocurrency scheme they believed was endorsed by political journalist Andrew Marr. Their £100 investment quickly, but falsely, grew to £600.
Guided by the scammer Giselle, they were trained to tell the banks that the transfers were legitimate. Ann told the BBC: “We felt at ease with her straight away. She encouraged us to ask questions.”
Giselle told Ann that they would all be rich together.
Apparent profits increased to £45,000. Scammers accessed devices and applied for loans using James’ details before the pair realized they had been scammed.
James said: “I never imagined she would disappear from the face of the Earth and leave me £50,000 in debt.”
The couple’s financial loss highlights the challenges of such scams and The Spell remains a source of concern for the financial industry.
Editor Which? Money Jenny Ross said that scammers prey especially on the tired and distracted.
Campaigners say it is “crucial” that new rules instructing banks to repay victims of scams are not “underwater”.
Through our Fair Deal for Fraud Victims crusade, the Daily Express is calling on banks to prioritize victims, reduce complaint times and ensure they are all repaid.
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