Online shopping and computer repair scams are among 12 “emerging fraud threats” identified by Which?
The consumer group based its findings on Action Fraud figures reported in the latest Office for National Statistics crime survey for England and Wales.
People aged between 20 and 39 are the most likely to have reported being scammed in the past year, Which? found, accounting for two in five (39%) reports to Action Fraud.
Many young victims had lost huge sums of money to online shopping scams, pyramid schemes and rental fraud.
We will be checking carefully that the Online Safety Bill goes far enough in protecting consumers from fake and fraudulent advertsJenny Ross, Which?
Between November 2020 and December 2021, individual victims lodged 448,838 reports with Action Fraud and more than £1.9 billion was lost, Which? said.
People aged 60 to 79 made up one in five (20%) fraud reports. This age group made up the highest proportion of reports for computer repair fraud (47%).
Online shopping scams and auction fraud were the most reported type of fraud overall, while investment frauds were responsible for the biggest losses, with the average victim losing more than £50,400 to pyramid or Ponzi schemes. These scams may involve recruiting friends or family members.
Many scams originate online via phishing emails or rogue adverts on search engines and social media. Sham investment firms often pretend to be backed by celebrities or online influencers.
The Online Safety Bill will help tackle scams gripping society.
Which? said the Bill must now ensure that the regulator has the support and resources it needs to hold companies to account and take strong enforcement action.
Its money editor Jenny Ross said: “The Government’s decision to include paid-for scam adverts in the Online Safety Bill, along with promises to make reimbursement mandatory for bank transfer scam victims, was a huge step in the right direction, but it’s now up to the Government and regulators to get it right.
“We will be checking carefully that the Online Safety Bill goes far enough in protecting consumers from fake and fraudulent adverts, and it’s vital that the Government swiftly introduces the right legislation for bank transfer fraud that will ensure victims get fair and consistent treatment.”
Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB, said: “Most people assume that fraud will never happen to them and that only older people are vulnerable but it’s simply not the case, as we refund young, tech-savvy fraud victims on a regular basis through our fraud refund guarantee.”
Here are the 12 “emerging fraud threats” identified by Which?, with the year-on-year increase in reports of such scams to Action Fraud in brackets and the average scam loss:
1. Online shopping/auction scams (14%), £650
2. “Other” advance fee fraud – where scammers ask someone to pay money upfront for fictional goods or rewards (15%), £1,296
3. Offline shopping fraud – this could include buying goods from a newspaper advert in person or on the high street (14%), £2,692
4. Computer repair fraud (24%), £1,448
5. “Other” investment fraud – financial fraud perhaps involving foreign exchange, cryptocurrency or investment seminars (34%), £24,089
6. Dating scams (39%), £10,349
7. Boiler room scams (57%), £24,887
8. Rental fraud (11%), £1,531
9. Phone fraud – fraudsters may pose as a mobile network to offer non-existent or worthless insurance, or scams may involve missed calls or texts that charge premium rates when someone replies (48%), £252
10. Pyramid/Ponzi schemes – investment scams may pay earlier investors with money taken from later investors, but the flow of new investors eventually runs out and so do the returns (59%), £50,429
11. Fraud recovery scams – when someone is asked to pay a fee to someone who pretends they can recover money you lost to a previous fraud (33%), £17,598
12. “419” advance fee fraud – these scams involve a bogus request from a stranger to pay an admin fee to help move money from one country to another in return for a portion of the money (61%), £2,563