Online fraud increased by a third in UK during pandemic

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The prevalence of online fraud has increased during the pandemic as people relied more on the internet for day-to-day tasks, with £ 2.3bn lost by consumers last year.

Fraud cases reported to Britain’s Action Fraud police unit increased by a third in 2020, reaching more than 410,000, according to analysis by consumer rights group Which?

Scams related to purchases, investments and delivery-related fraud, and carried out by phone and text, were already on the rise – but at a slower pace than in 2020. The consumer group warned that the acceleration last year reported that “industry scams exploded during the Covid pandemic”.

New laws to tackle rising levels of financial fraud have been proposed in the UK government’s online safety bill, threatening social media sites with fines unless they do more to protect people against the loss of large sums of money.

But Jenny Ross, financial editor at Which ?, warned that regulators and internet companies should “keep up with the evolving tactics of scammers.”

Fraudsters, she said, were using the increase in online shopping during the pandemic as a “stepping stone” to deceive growing numbers of people, adding that the online security bill should make it “the responsibility”. platforms to identify, remove and prevent ”fakes. ads posted by fraudsters.

The magnitude of the problem may also be greater than reported by Action Fraud. ONS crime statistics include more than 4 million fraud incidents in 2020, indicating that only a fraction of victims report fraud to law enforcement authorities.

Online shopping scams were, as in recent years, the most reported type of fraud. Equity fraud complaints jumped 65% in the year ending April, with more than 103,000 victims according to Which? Young people have been disproportionately affected, with 56% of online shopping scam complaints filed by people aged 20 to 39.

The fastest growing category of fraud during the pandemic was phone and text scams. Messages such as those from fraudulent couriers that charge an administrative fee to deliver non-existent packages have jumped 83% in the past year.

But consumers lost the most money to investment scams, around £ 535million last year. Which? the researchers had observed “an explosion of these scams appearing in advertisements or results on the search engines”.

Internet companies such as social media platform Facebook and payment company PayPal say they are making significant investments to prevent fraudsters from using their platforms, but they even profit from fraudulent advertisements or transactions.

Facebook said its team of 35,000 employees working on safety and security deactivates billions of fake accounts every year as the platform tries to “detect and reject scams.”

“We don’t want fraudulent activity on our platform,” he said.

PayPal said that “sometimes things can go wrong” and that its payment protection coverage gives people 180 days to report issues, such as not receiving the goods and services they paid for.

One indication of the cruelty of online scams, Which? Said, was the growth of the so-called salvage fraud, where victims are scammed for the second time as scammers claim to help them recoup losses from the scam. ‘origin. Last year, victims lost an average of £ 14,408 to such crimes.


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