15,000 people victims of fraud
More than 15,000 people have been the victims of fraud during the first half of the year, a report indicated.
The national fraud reporting centre Action Fraud said it had received 15,000 reports from people who had been victims of scams during the past six months.
It said the amount of money people had been tricked out of ranged from just £6 to more than £1 million.
The most common type of fraud involved online shopping and auction sites, followed by advance fee frauds, under which people are asked to pay a fee for a service, often a psychic reading or arranging a loan, but they never receive what they have paid for.
Other common areas of fraud included romance frauds, which involve fraudsters gaining people's trust and then persuading them to give them money, miracle health products and boiler room scams, under which high-pressure sales techniques are used to sell people worthless shares.
The group, which provides victims of fraud with a criminal reference number, estimates that consumers lose at least £3.5 billion through fraud each year.
But it added that the actual amount lost was likely to be much higher than this, as many people never report that they have been victims of fraud.
It is calling on anyone who has been a victim to contact it at www.actionfraud.org.uk or by telephoning 0300 123 2040.
Dr Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the National Fraud Authority which runs Action Fraud, said: "Fraud, of any value, is a serious crime that devastates lives and often funds more organised crime like drug smuggling and people trafficking.
"We're very pleased to see so many people speaking up, but we know there are many more victims out there. People often feel embarrassed, but they shouldn't. There are many types of fraud and anyone can become a victim. If you report it you can help us fight the fraudsters and make the UK a more hostile environment for fraud."