Top of main content

What is an authorised push payment scam?

If a criminal tricks you into transferring money to them, it’s known as an authorised push payment (APP) scam.

It differs from other types of fraud, where criminals get access to accounts and steal money without the account holder’s knowledge.

With APP scams, criminals often try to persuade you to take action in a hurry. They make you panic before you have time to think it through properly.

To help protect you from fraud, we've signed up to a voluntary code to combat APP scams, agreed with the Lending Standards Board.

Here are some typical APP scams and warning signs to beware of:


Invoice and mandate scam

This scam starts with the victim trying to pay an invoice to a genuine payee. The criminal intervenes to convince the victim to redirect the payment to an account they control. Criminals can pose as conveyancing solicitors, builders or other tradespeople. They might also target businesses by posing as a supplier. In both cases, they claim the bank account details have changed. With this type of fraud, the criminal often either intercepts emails or compromises an email account.

CEO fraud

This is where the scammer impersonates the chief executive officer (CEO) or other high-ranking official of an organisation. They then try to convince you to make an urgent payment to the scammer’s account. This type of fraud mostly affects businesses.

Impersonation scam – police or organisations

In this scam, a criminal gets in touch and pretends to be from the police or the victim’s bank. They convince their victim to make a payment to an account they control. They might also claim to represent a utility company or government department. Common scams include bogus claims that the victim must settle a fine, pay overdue tax or return a refund. Sometimes the criminal asks for remote access to the victim’s computer as part of the scam, claiming they need to help ‘fix’ a problem.

Impersonation scam – family or friends

Here, the fraudster pretends to be a family member or someone the victim knows. They then usually go on to make up a story and ask the victim to make a bank transfer. These requests generally come from social media, text messages or other instant messaging platforms.

Purchase scam

This is when you pay in advance for goods or services that are never received. These scams usually involve the victim using an online platform such as an auction website or social media.

Find out more about purchase scams.

Investment scam

A criminal convinces you to move your money to a fund that doesn't exist or to pay for a fake investment. The criminal will usually promise a high return. These scams include investment in items such as gold, property, carbon credits, cryptocurrencies, land banks and wine.

Read more about investment scams and cloned companies.

Romance scam

Fraudsters will use fake profiles on social media or dating websites to target their victims. They try to start a relationship and develop it over a long period of time. Once they've established their victim’s trust, the criminal will then claim to have a problem, such as an issue with a visa, health issues or flight tickets and ask for money to help.

Read more about how to avoid romance scams.

Advance fee scam

In this type of scam, a criminal convinces you to pay a fee that they claim will result in the release of a much larger payment or high value goods. These scams include claims that you've won an overseas lottery, that gold or jewellery is being held at customs or that an inheritance is due. The fraudster tells you a fee must be paid first. When the payment is made, the promised goods or money never materialise. These scams often begin with an email or a letter sent by the criminal to the victim.