Card fraud is expected to rocket in the next 12 months as the world economic situation tempts people into criminal activity.

Cases of ‘facility takeover fraud’, where a criminal gains access to someone’s account via the interception of credit cards or the internet, have already soared by 159% in the year to date, according to the UK’s fraud prevention service CIFAS.

CIFAS chief executive Peter Hurst said: “As people feel the pinch in the economic downturn, many take more desperate measures to make ends meet. Fraud never goes out of fashion, and the fight against it has to respond to the fraudsters latest initiatives as well as remaining attentive to more traditional methods.”

The news comes as a spate of card cloning incidents were reported in Surrey. 

Police in Virginia Water are investigating two cases of cloning believed to have taken place at a Budgens store, and are looking at the possibility that other shops have also been targeted.

One local resident had £300 stolen from her account after using her card in the store. An identical amount was also taken from her mother who had shopped in the store on the same day. Barclays Bank said that more than 20 customers in the town had also complained of card fraud. A 17-year-old man has been arrested. 

Meanwhile, police in High Wycombe are also investigating a major case of credit card fraud believed to originate from an Asda supermarket. One customer had £1,400 withdrawn from ATM machines in the US and Pakistan. Asda said it was aware of the situation and that affected customers would get their money back.

Earlier this month a gang operating an international credit card scam which targeted forecourt stores was jailed. The con men bribed staff and rigged up secret cameras in stores to film customers entering their PINs.