The Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA), together with BioCatch, just released its 2024 State of Scams in Sweden report. It shows Swedes lost $2.75 billion in scams in the last 12 months alone.

That is a very big number, but even that total (which reveals every person in Sweden lost an average of $264 to scams last year) fails to capture the full the picture of the devastation wrought by fraudsters on this Nordic nation. The survey also gives some insight into how Swedish consumers feel about this surge in criminal activity – in a word: hopeless.

GASA reports only 20% of those surveyed had reported scams to either the police, bank officials, or other authorities, and only 10% of victims were able to recover the money they’d lost.

The report also shows criminal tactics continued to evolve and improve, with a 17% decline from the year before in the number of people who felt confident they could spot a scam. While scams appeared to grow harder to recognize, we also see a shocking increase in the total number of scams reported – up a staggering 93% from 2022.

To summarize all that: Swedes are being hit more frequently with more scams they find it harder than ever to identity, they don’t see the point in reporting any of this to authorities (unsurprising given that only 2% of reported fraud leads to prosecution), and they have very little chance of recovering any lost money should they fall victim.

A very bleak picture indeed.

The Human Impact is at Least as Big as the Financial One:

Scams are big news in Sweden right now, in no small part due to two documentaries shown recently on the national TV channel, SVT1, where the nation got to see this type of crime from the criminal’s point of view. In those episodes, I saw ruthless criminal gangsters operating without any moral compass. I also saw how the proceeds of the fraud they carry out go on to fund gang violence and the trafficking of drugs and weapons. These docs shared stories from victims who had not only lost their savings but also their faith in society.

Urgent Change is Needed Now:

Historically, Sweden has relied on information campaigns to combat fraud and financial crime. Education is important, but is not enough to combat new-age scammers.

The market has also launched new types of accounts that deliberately slow down banking transfers, so they take three days to complete. GASA now reports a large proportion of scams in Sweden last year took place over weeks, months, and years.

The Swedish Prime Minister recently called for financial institutions in the country to do more to detect and prevent scams, asking banks to invest in new technologies.

Here, I agree. We’ve seen other countries drastically minimize fraud, scams, and financial crime after implementing behavioral biometric intelligence, which can recognize a coerced consumer making a payment they shouldn’t be. This enables banks to stop the transfers as they happen. It’s much easier to stop a transfer in real-time than to try and recall a transfer after it’s already made.

I’d love to see next year’s State of Scams in Sweden report tell a different story, where banks have taken a proactive approach to stopping fraud, where losses and victims are decreasing, and, ultimately, where consumer faith in society is restored.

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