Festive fraud warning as scammers steal thousands over Christmas and New Year

Santander UK has today urged people to be vigilant against fraud over the festive period, as the bank’s data shows customers made claims for nearly £75,000 (£74,591) lost to Authorised Push Payment scams over Christmas week last year. 

On Christmas Day last year, two customers made claims after falling victim to the family and friends WhatsApp impersonation scam. On Boxing Day, claims were made for various purchases including cars and game consoles, as well as people reporting ticket scams for football tickets. New Year’s Day saw further claims made for WhatsApp scams, car purchases, and a fake travel agent scam.  

Santander data covering 25th December 2022 – 1st January 2023 shows: 

  • 61 scam claims were submitted. 
  • On Christmas Day itself, seven scam claims were logged worth a total of £2,174. 
  • On Boxing Day, 36 scam claims were submitted worth £37,884. 
  • On New Year’s Day, 18 scam claims were submitted worth £34,533. 

Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Risk Management at Santander said: “Christmas should be the most wonderful time of the year but unfortunately there are criminals out there trying to be the grinch who stole Christmas. As people enjoy the festivities with loved ones, they should remain guarded against the usual scams that criminals attempt all year round.  

“Whether shopping online with some Christmas money or getting offered tickets to sold-out football games on Boxing Day, people should think carefully before handing over any money and remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Our fraud team is here to support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so if you are in any doubt at all give them a call on 159 before making any purchase.” 

The WhatsApp impersonation scam is where criminals impersonate people you know and trust, including members of your own family. They send a text pretending to be a loved one and lead the conversation towards an urgent appeal for help and a need for you to transfer funds to them. 

Santander’s website has more on the WhatsApp scam and top tips for helping spot other potential fraud and scams. Top tips include: 

  • Always take time to think before making a payment, especially if it’s a lot of money. Speak to someone you trust first, like a friend or family member. 
  • Pay extra attention to the warnings we provide when making a payment. They’re in place to help you bank safely and avoid being scammed. 
  • Anyone can be easily impersonated, and criminals can make the caller ID, email address or name look exactly like the genuine caller. So, if you get an email, text or call, check it’s genuine by phoning them back on a known and trusted number. 
  • Always take time to complete extra checks when you make a payment. This is to make sure the person and the payment are genuine. This can be reading reviews, researching companies or websites, and checking the person or company is who they say they are. 
  • Don’t allow anyone remote access to your devices. Criminals can ask you to click on a link or download an app which will give them control over your device. 
  • Santander’s fraud team operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Anybody worried they have fallen victim to fraud can contact Santander over the festive period. 

Information on how to report fraud is available on the Santander website as well as information on how to report a lost, stolen, or damaged card. 

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The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. 


Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2023, the bank had around 19,400 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, 7 million digital customers via a nationwide 445 branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the FCA and the PRA in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the FSCS in the UK. 


Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Santander aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising €220 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2030. At the end of the third quarter of 2023, Banco Santander had €1.3 trillion in total funds, 166 million customers, 8,700 branches and 212,000 employees.