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Blame game as online fraud costs victims millions

Blame game as online fraud costs victims millions

The government, banks and some police forces are not doing enough to tackle online fraud which runs into millions of pounds according to the National Audit Office.

The NAO's report ‘Online fraud’, published today, has revealed fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales and most happens online.

Official figures from the ONS revealed an estimated 3.6 million fraud incidents, of which 1.9 million incidents (53 per cent) were cyber-related.

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In the same period, there were around 623,000 fraud offences, including online fraud, recorded by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

The large difference between estimated and recorded fraud suggests that less than 20 per cent of incidents are reported to the police.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, commented:  “For too long, as a low value but high volume crime, online fraud has been overlooked by government, law enforcement and industry.

"It is now the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales and demands an urgent response. While the Department [Home Office] is not solely responsible for reducing and preventing online fraud, it is the only body that can oversee the system and lead change.

"The launch of the Joint Fraud Taskforce in February 2016 was a positive step, but there is still much work to be done.  At this stage it is hard to judge that the response to online fraud is proportionate, efficient or effective.”

According to the report, criminals using stolen card details to make fraudulent transactions, including over the internet, is known as ‘card not present’ fraud.

Known cases of this type of fraud increased by 103 per cent between 2011 and 2016, from 709,000 to approximately 1.4 million incidents. If the current rate of growth continues, the volume of these frauds could reach 2.9 million by 2021. 

In 2016, an estimated 95 per cent of people in the UK had used the internet in the past year, as online shopping and banking grew.

A survey also showed that 82 per cent of adults in the UK used the internet “daily or almost daily” in 2016.

In the same year, 60 per cent of people banked online, compared with 35 per cent in 2008.

Emails can be used to target victims; across the world more than nine billion emails are sent every hour. In 2016, at least 6.3 per cent of adults, or about three million people, were victims of fraud, and the crime is indiscriminate.

In the year ending September 2016, in 39 per cent of incidents where money was taken or stolen from the victim, the loss was £250 or more.

Some fraud relating to scams is included within overall fraud loss figures, but it is not reported separately.

Other data available suggest that somewhere between 40 per cent and 70 per cent of people who are victims of scams do not get any money back. Banks are reported to be holding at least £130 million of funds that cannot accurately be traced back and returned to fraud victims.

The report states that there is a lack of co-ordination and consistency in education campaigns to improve citizens’ and businesses’ cyber security.