Scams increase as fraudsters exploit pandemic and surge in online shopping
The widespread online shift to shopping and daily chores during the pandemic has led to a one-third increase in reported scams, according to the figures.
Some 413,553 cases of fraud were reported to Action Fraud in the year ending April, an increase of 33% from the previous 12 months.
More than £ 2.3 billion has been lost by the victims, consumer group Which? mentionned.
The rise is significant from previous years and follows an 8% increase through 2020, suggesting that the scam industry has exploded during the Covid pandemic.
ONS crime figures estimate that there were over four million fraud incidents in 2020, suggesting that only around 10% of breaches are reported to Action Fraud.
Online shopping scams were the most reported type of fraud, increasing 65% from the previous year.
Which? calls for the government’s online security bill to give online platforms a legal responsibility to identify, remove and prevent bogus and fraudulent content on their sites, including advertisements often used by scammers as a basis for online shopping scams.
There have been over 103,000 reports of people being scammed while shopping online, more than the following three categories of scams combined.
Young people represent the largest number of reports of online shopping scams. Some 56% of reports to Action Fraud were from people aged 20 to 39, compared to 34% from 40 to 59 and 9% from 60 to 79.
Phone and text scams saw the biggest increase year-over-year, at 83%.
Which? said fraudsters appeared to take advantage of people’s changing habits, which recently led to an increase in the number of text messages claiming to be from courier and delivery companies asking recipients an administrative fee to collect packages.
The second biggest increase was online shopping scams, up 65%, while investment fraud rose 50%. Investment fraud was also the most reported money lost overall at £ 535million.
There has also been a 39% increase in so-called “collection fraud,” where victims are scammed for the second time by criminals claiming to help them recover losses from the original scam, the victims losing an average of £ 14,408.
Which? Money editor Jenny Ross said: “Fraudsters have added to the suffering many people have faced over the past year by using the pandemic and the increase in online shopping as a springboard to deceive a number. growing number of victims.
“Tech giants, banks, telecom providers, regulators and government need to keep up with the evolving tactics of scammers and ensure that people cannot be targeted when performing daily activities like shopping.
“The government’s online security bill should give online platforms a legal responsibility to identify, remove and prevent bogus and fraudulent content on their sites, including advertisements often used by fraudsters in the framework of online shopping scams.