Brits lost nearly £4 billion to fraud in the last 12 months
According to data presented by Atlas VPN, United Kingdom residents lost a shocking £3.9 billion to fraudsters in the last 12 months, which averages out to about £10.7 million per day. During this period, there were 345,228 reported fraud cases.
However, the reported figures on fraud may only reflect a small portion of the actual occurrences since numerous instances of fraudulent activities go unreported.
These figures were calculated based on the NFIB Fraud and Cyber Crime Dashboard data. The data encompasses the period between April 2022 and March 2023.
London recorded the highest number of reported fraud cases, with 59,449 instances resulting in a massive £1.8 billion in losses, constituting nearly half (46%) of the total losses.
East England followed with 41,871 cases and £268 million in losses, while the North West had 38,627 cases and £171.9 million in losses. Although the South East region had fewer fraud cases (37,799) than East England and the North West, it incurred higher losses amounting to £390.4 million, making it one of the regions worst hit by fraud.
Based on the monthly fraud data, May 2022 witnessed the highest number of reported fraud cases, with a total of 31,247. Overall, the second quarter of 2022 experienced the highest fraud levels in the past 12 months, with 88,199 fraud cases reported. However, the third quarter saw the largest fraud losses, totaling £1.4 billion. August was the most profitable month for fraudsters, as they managed to loot £778.7 million.
Fraud cases and losses both decreased during Q4 of 2022, but fraud numbers slightly increased again in the Q1 of 2023, rising to 85,171. On the other hand, fraud losses continued to decline, dropping by 43% and reaching £527 million. February was the least successful month for fraudsters, as both fraud cases and losses hit the lowest point in the past 12 months.
Online shopping and auction scams were the most common
Fraudsters employed various tactics to lure out funds from unsuspecting victims. However, certain types of fraud were more widespread than others.
Online shopping and auction scams were the most frequent types of fraud, with 67,460 cases reported in the past year, costing victims £103.2 million, or approximately £1,530 per scam.
Advance fee frauds came in second, with 27,536 reported cases in the last 12 months, robbing consumers of £53.8 million, or £1,954 per fraud case.
Cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud took the third spot on the list, with 24,746 cases reported, collectively costing consumers a staggering £823.5 million — more than any other type of fraud. This equates to around £33,278 per fraud instance.
However, mortgage-related fraud leads when it comes to funds lost per single fraud case. In just 24 fraud instances, criminals looted £39.7 million, averaging £1.65 million per fraud case.
Common online scams to look out for
Scams can be a frustrating and costly experience, potentially leading to the loss of funds and personal information.
However, one of the best ways to protect yourself against online fraud is by being educated about it. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of common scams you might encounter on the internet.
Pig butchering scams. A pig butchering scam is a cryptocurrency investment fraud that preys on people's emotions to convince them to invest. Scammers may spend weeks or months building trust with their victims through SMS messages, email, forums, or even dating apps before making the investment pitch. Knowing how to recognize a pig butchering scam can help you protect yourself from falling victim to this type of fraud.
Job scams. The rise of online job postings has made it easier for scammers to trick job seekers with fake job offers. Job scams often lure victims with promises of high-paying, work-from-home jobs but demand personal information or upfront payments. Job seekers must exercise caution when applying for jobs online to avoid falling victim to these scams.
Sugar daddy scams. Sugar daddy scams are a type of online fraud that targets vulnerable individuals by offering money in exchange for companionship. These scams are commonly found on social media platforms like Instagram and dating sites like Tinder. Scammers create fake profiles, posing as wealthy and successful individuals, to lure victims into their traps.
Zelle scams. Zelle scams are designed to exploit the convenience and speed of instant peer-to-peer payments. These scams rely on social engineering techniques and can occur on platforms like Facebook Marketplace or through email. Scammers use enticing offers such as concert tickets or household items to persuade their victims to transfer funds to them via Zelle. Because these payments are instant and irreversible, victims have no way to retrieve their money once it has been wired.
WhatsApp scams. WhatsApp scams can take the form of fake messages on the WhatsApp platform from unknown numbers, impersonations of people you know, or even bogus verification codes. Scammers often include shortened links, files, and login or payment information requests.
Facebook Marketplace scams. Fraudsters on Facebook Marketplace impersonate genuine sellers or buyers, using various tactics to scam their targets. Typically, they request personal information or money, and if successful, victims can lose both their identities and funds to Facebook Marketplace scams.