A man talks on the telephone, in front of a caricature of dollar bills
Fraudsters raise millions of pounds a year through phone scamsReuters

An estimated £23.6m (€32.8m, $37.4m) has been lost in the 12 months to June 2015 to a cash transfer phone scam in the UK, Financial Fraud Action said.

The FFA said that in this particular scam fraudsters call citizens pretending to be their bank, telling them a fraud has been detected in their account and telling the victim to transfer their money into another account, which belongs to the fraudster.

The fraud charity has launched a campaign called Neighbourhood Watch, which sees 173,000 volunteers help different districts detect the fraud.

The action, backed by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, hopes to reach a total of two million people who might be vulnerable to fraud.

Chairman of the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network Jim Maddan said in a release: "People are often unwilling to confide in their family but Neighbourhood Watch coordinators have a long and successful history of supporting people to protect themselves against crime. With the present increase in phone fraud they are now bringing their skills to bear on this issue to help keep more people safe."

The FFA said to watch out for unsolicited phone calls by your bank or the police and people who ask you to hang up and call them back. "Fraudsters can keep your phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end," the charity stated.

The US Federal Trade Commission gives the following lines as 'alerts' that a call could be a scam:

  • You've been specially selected (for this offer).
  • You'll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
  • You've won one of five valuable prizes.
  • You've won big money in a foreign lottery.
  • This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.
  • You have to make up your mind right away.
  • You trust me, right?
  • You don't need to check our company with anyone.
  • We'll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.