Fraudsters fleece millions of pounds from Lincolnshire victims during pandemic
Fraud (archive image)
Criminals have taken advantage of the surge in internet purchases and health and wellbeing concerns during the crisis, says Action Fraud, the UK fraud and cybercrime agency.
In Lincolnshire, from early February last year to late March this year, 5,641 cases of fraud and cybercrime were reported in Lincolnshire, according to Action Fraud.
The value of the crimes was £ 15.8 million, which is roughly £ 3,726 a day.
Across the UK, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, 448,700 fraud and cybercrime reports were filed with Action Fraud in 14 months. The victims’ losses amounted to £ 1.9 billion.
The number in Lincolnshire could be higher as 23,600 reported crimes worth £ 469.4 million were not reported in a specific police area.
The figures also show that online shopping fraud was the most common type of fraud and cybercrime, alongside bank and fee fraud.
An Action Fraud spokesperson said: “In an incredibly challenging year, we have unfortunately seen cunning criminals exploit the coronavirus pandemic as a means to commit fraud
“To carry out their scams, the criminals have focused on people’s fears and changes in our daily lives, such as the fact that we have all been shopping more online.”
Consumer group Which? The numbers showed that online purchase fraud is now running on an “industrial scale” – blaming tech giants for not doing enough to keep users safe
Adam French, consumer rights expert, said, “The coronavirus crisis has seen more people shop online than ever before, while opportunistic scammers have developed increasingly sophisticated tactics to steal people’s money.
“Search engines and social media websites have some of the most advanced technologies in the world, but they don’t use them to protect their users from scammers who abuse the platforms through fake and deceptive content.”
In response, Google, which operates the world’s most widely used search engine, stated that its platform had “strict guidelines” on ads. 3.1 billion ads, including 123 million for financial services, were blocked and removed last year.
It is also claimed to block 100 million emails to users every day.
However, the company stated that an increasing number of scammers are promoting bogus companies or attempting phone fraud to lure users off its platforms and avoid detection.
The campaign fraud figures also show the age of the victims of the reported fraud and cybercrime offenses in the 14-month period from February last year.
In Lincolnshire, people between 50 and 59 were most likely to be affected. Around 900 reported victims made up 16 percent of all people who had given an age
There were around 1,900 reports with victims aged 60 and over – 34 percent – including 38 victims between the ages of 90 and 99.