The UK’s police forces have recorded more than 6,000 significant cases of fraud and crime related to coronavirus over the last year, with over 416,000 individual reports made in London and many more suspected to go unreported.
Victims of coronavirus related crimes have lost a combined total of over £34.5 million since 1st March 2020, many of which have stemmed from Internet shopping scams, resulting in a loss of money and personal data breaches.*
Shopping related fraud was 42% higher during the first lockdown than for the preceding year, as scammers took advantage of the fact that shoppers were forced to make their purchases online – perhaps, for some, for the first time.
Charities have also been vulnerable to these targeted fraud attacks, with one in three reporting a cyber attack during the first ten months of the pandemic and some hackers going days without being detected by the organisations, allowing them to compromise email accounts and send false invoices to their clients.
Data from the City of London Police also shows an increase compared to 2019/20 in romance fraud (20%) being committed in the last 11 months.
With their co-ordinated efforts to tackle fraud, in 2020 the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit has worked with social media platforms to take down over 700 accounts that were linked to fraudulent activity.
However, these figures may only be the tip of the iceberg.
The National Crime Agency estimates that only one in five fraud cases are reported to the police, and Cyber Helpline state that only a quarter of those who contact them regarding cyber related crimes also report the incidents to the police.
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*Source: Action Fraud team, BBC News