The widespread shift to online shopping and daily chores during the coronavirus pandemic has seen scams increase by a third, new figures suggest.
Action Fraud received 413,533 crime reports across the UK in the year to April, which is a 33% increase from the previous 12 months.
The scams resulted in the theft of Â£ 2.3 billion from victims, according to consumer group Which?
Between April 2019 and April 2020, scams only increased by 8%, suggesting that the COVID pandemic fueled fraud activity.
Phone and SMS scams saw the largest increase – 83% from the previous year – followed by online shopping scams – which rose 65%.
With the boom in online shopping during the coronavirus crisis, associated scams saw a total of Â£ 535million stolen from victims.
So-called âpaybackâ scams, which claim to recover money for people already suffering financial loss, increased 39% from the previous year.
This resulted in an average loss per victim of Â£ 14,408, according to the figures.
The majority of those targeted were young people, with 56% of fraud reports coming from people aged 20 to 39, compared to just 9% from 60 to 79.
Crime figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there were more than four million fraud incidents in 2020, suggesting that only 10% of violations are reported to Action Fraud.
Which? Money editor Jenny Ross said: “Fraudsters have added to the suffering many people have faced over the past year by using the pandemic and the increase in online shopping as a springboard to deceive a number. growing number of victims. “
She calls on the government to amend its bill on online security to force platforms to take greater responsibility for fraud committed on their sites.
âTech giants, banks, telecom providers, regulators and the government need to keep up with the evolving tactics of scammers and ensure that people cannot be targeted when performing daily activities like shopping, âshe added.