Nearly £20 million-worth of frauds, including several Covid-19 scams, were prevented last year by a specialist police unit funded by the banking and finance industry.
The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) targets organised criminal gangs responsible for fraud.
It is made up of officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police Service as well as staff from trade association UK Finance.
More than 100 arrests were made in 2020 and the DCPCU helped take down 731 social media accounts linked to fraudulent activity, of which 258 were involved in recruiting money mules.
The DCPCU also recovered 18,175 compromised card numbers from active criminal gangs.
The unit is currently investigating more than 150 live cases, including several coronavirus-related scams.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, head of the DCPCU, said: “By working closely with the banking industry and other partners, we are continuing cracking down on those responsible for coronavirus-related fraud, with multiple arrests in recent weeks of individuals believed to be involved in coronavirus vaccine scams.”
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “The successes with social media and telecommunication partners show what can be achieved when all sectors collaborate in a united front against this threat.
“We would urge the public to follow the advice of our Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to stay safe from scams, and always take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or information.”
Temporary Commander Clinton Blackburn, of City of London Police, policing lead force for fraud, said: “I am so proud of the DCPCU officers’ achievements throughout this pandemic, which include 122 arrests and the take-down of over 700 social media accounts linked to fraudulent activity.
“The unit’s work has prevented millions of pounds worth of money belonging to innocent individuals and businesses from getting into the hands of fraudsters.
“It is likely that criminals will continue to attempt to exploit the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and on people’s personal finances, and it’s therefore essential the public remain vigilant and Take Five before parting with any money or personal details.”