A recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) report reveals that an estimated 5.1 million fraud offences were committed in England and Wales in the year to September 2022, up 36% in two years. In fact, fraud now accounts for 40% of all crimes recorded.

Covid related threats to one side here are the most prevalent emerging online threats we need to watch out for according to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.
  • Online shopping and auction fraud - you pay for goods on an online marketplace that don’t arrive, or don’t receive payments for goods you’ve sold.
  • Advance fee fraud - you pay an upfront fee related to fraud such as career opportunities, clairvoyants or bogus officials.
  • Computer fixing fraud - you pay a fee to a fraudster who claims they will fix a bogus technical issue on your computer.
  • Financial fraud involving foreign exchange, cryptocurrency or investment seminars.
  • Dating scams in which fraudsters create fake profiles on dating sites/apps or target you on social media to establish a connection then ask for money.
  • You’re tricked into paying upfront fees to secure properties by fake landlords and letting agents.
  • Phone fraud - fraudsters pose as your mobile network to offer non-existent or worthless insurance. Also scams involving missed calls/texts that charge premium rates when you reply.
  • Fraudsters pose as foreign officials asking for money to release millions from a fictional inheritance or government fund. This type of fraud is known as 401, named after a section of the Nigerian criminal code. It’s been around a long time but people are still falling for it.
UK consumer champion Which? analysed Action Fraud’s figures and estimated the cost of each type of fraud for each individual who is conned as follows:
  • Online shopping/auction scams - £650
  • Advance fee fraud - £1,296
  • Computer fixing fraud - £1,448
  • Financial fraud - £24,089
  • Dating scams - £10,349
  • Rental fraud - £1,531
  • Phone fraud - £252
  • 419’ advance fee fraud - £2,563
As ever, the watch word is ‘take care’ and don’t be fooled by offers that are too good to be true.