There was an 80% jump in the number of fraudulent scams carried out last year, with victims conned out of almost €16 million.

The findings are revealed in a new report by FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).

It shows that fraudsters managed to steal double the amount of money in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Victims were tricked out of an average of €5,300 through a wide range of scam types - including impersonation scams, romance scams and investment scams.

The new report, which has launched to mark Fraud Awareness Week, also highlights the sharp rise in impersonation scams as fraudsters have sought to exploit the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

These scams occur when the fraudster pretends to be from a legitimate organisation or business to get sensitive information or money from the victim.

The research shows some 68% of consumers reported being targeted by some form of impersonation scam in the twelve months to July 2021, with the figures rising to 83% among 18-24 year olds.

When asked who the fraudster was pretending to be, more than half said a Government department or agency including the Revenue Commissioners or Gardaí, while 36% said the fraudster was pretending to be from a bank.

Almost one in five said the fraudster pretended to be from a delivery company.

72% of respondents said the fraudsters contacted them by phone, while 37% were contacted via email and 32% were sent a text message.

On a positive note, the research shows that some 70% of respondents did nothing when contacted.

Only 6% clicked on a link in an email, while 3% provided personal or account information and 2% provided bank or credit card details.

Brian Hayes, Chief Executive BPFI warned that fraudsters continuously update and adapt their tactics and tools.

"They can quickly identify and exploit scam opportunities presented by evolving consumer and business behaviour as well as the ever-changing economic and social environment.

"Banks use a range of measures such as encryption and continuous fraud monitoring to protect their customers and ensure every day payments can be made securely but it is important for everyone to protect themselves from fraud by being vigilant," he said.

If you suspect you may be a victim of fraud, Mr Hayes said to report it to your local Garda station.