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Cyber crime doubles UK crime rate: Fraud hits 1 in 10, but is this just the tip of the iceberg?

News: 5.8 million fraud and computer misuse incidents in the 12 months to the end of March 2016.

By Ellie Burns

The ONS has today released findings from its Crime Survey for England and Wale, showing a significant rise in cyber-crime from its own estimates back in October 2015.

The survey revealed that there were an estimated 5.8 million fraud and computer misuse incidents in the 12 months to the end of March 2016, with that number comprised of 3.8 million cases of fraud and 2 million computer misuse incidents. Just over half of the fraud incidents reported were found to be cyber-related.

If combined with the figures for all offences excluding online crime in the 12 months to March 2015, 6.3m offenses, this would see the UK crime rate nearly double. However, ONS statisticians said “it would be misleading to conclude that this means actual crime levels has doubled, since the survey previously did not cover these offences.”

The numbers suggest fraud is the most common type of crime, with further ONS findings revealing that bank and credit card fraud was the most common among adults aged 16 and over.

This is the first time that the ONS has added fraud questions to the crime survey, but Piers Wilson, head of product management at Huntsman Security argues that the numbers fall short of the actual number of cyber incidents being perpetrated today.

“The 5.8 million cases of fraud and computer misuse reported by the ONS are only the tip of the iceberg; there will be many more incidents that either weren’t recognised at all, or weren’t recognised as cyber-crime,” he said.

Giving advice on how to face the evolving, dynamic crime of fraud, Sundeep Tengur, Banking Fraud Solutions & Financial Crimes Specialist at SAS., said:

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“Fraud is an insidious problem that challenges all businesses in the UK and around the globe. For far too long, fraud has been viewed as a victimless crime. On the contrary, it is continually being used by criminals for monetary gain and to fund a wide spectrum of illegal activities including drug dealing, human trafficking and even the funding of terrorism. Sadly, many of the victims are among the most vulnerable members of our society.

“Organisations must be in a constant state of readiness and need a multi-layered and pragmatic strategy to curb this threat. It is critical that organisations adopt a holistic approach that encompasses data management, fraud detection as well as robust policies and strict internal governance to ensure that their exposure to fraud is brought down to a minimum.”

A recent CBR Q&A with Featurespace CEO Martina King talked about how machine learning has been drafted in to fight fraud. Read the interview here.

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