Since the start of the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown more than £16 million in online shopping fraud has been reported to Action Fraud.
Action Fraud is the national centre for reporting cybercrime and fraud within the UK. It has had 16,352 reports of cybercrime and fraud amounting to £16.6 million since lockdown started, the organisation said.
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud commented: “The global outbreak of coronavirus has seen all our lives turn upside down. With the lockdown being introduced, so many more people are now online shopping, including those who have never done so before. It is therefore unsurprising that there has therefore been an increase in fraud being committed.”
Much of the losses have been accrued during simple online transactions after which the purchased item is never delivered. Interestingly younger people appear to be more susceptible to online fraud: 24 percent of the reports to Action Fraud were from people aged between 18 and 26.
Smith notes that: “We are still seeing young people in their 20’s falling victim the most. This has been the case for the last 18 months which implies this is not just a trend brought about because of coronavirus. We would make a plea to this group to take extra care when shopping online.”
Action Fraud Notes The Growth of Online Fraud
The pandemic and lockdown have opened the flood gates for online scams and fraudulent product sales as malicious actors try to cash in on fear and inexperience.
Last March cyber firm Check Point recorded more than 6,000 new Covid-19 related domain registered in a week. While during the same month the UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reported that just 21 Covid-19 fraud schemes resulted in £800,000 loss for business and victims.
Action Fraud recommends that if you do have to make purchase online you should do so with a credit card as other payment providers may not offer the same protections.
Ben Tuckwell, District Manager, UK & Ireland, RSA Security, told Computer Business Review that: “Today’s warning from Action Fraud is concerning but not altogether surprising. Unfortunately, fraudsters thrive in times of disruption.”
“In fact, in the first three months of 2020, RSA recovered details of over five million unique compromised cards globally. Once credentials are stolen these card details are sold on the dark web to other fraudsters who can use them to buy goods.”
“While the consumer advice from Action Fraud is absolutely correct, banks, card issuers and retailers alike must also step up the war on fraudsters, both in times of crisis and in the future as shopping increasingly moves online. Pioneering businesses are already applying machine learning to better predict whether a payment is likely to be fraudulent. By looking at hundreds of different data points and assessing whether it is normal or suspect behaviour, banks and card issuers stand a better chance of stopping criminal activity in its tracks.”