Flexible Security For Your Peace of Mind

£36m lost to fraud and cyber crime in 2020

(Last updated on November 18, 2020)

In 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people purchased goods or services online – and that number is growing year-on-year. However, those shopping online must be wary when making any online purchases, as our latest research has found that £36,262,000 has been lost to fraud and cyber crime in 2020 so far.

Eager to support individuals in practicing safer online shopping and understanding these threats further, Specops Software analysed police force data to find out which areas are recording the highest and lowest number of cases, as well as providing some useful tips on how to prevent becoming a victim of cyber crime.

The police forces reporting the most cases of fraud in 2020

1.    Metropolitan Police

Between the period of January to October 2020, the Metropolitan Police reported the highest number of cases of online shopping and auction fraud in the UK, with 10,926 reported cases in total. This has resulted in victims suffering a reported £6,300,000 in losses during this time. Many of these cases were recorded in June 2020, with 1,294 recorded.

2.    West Midlands Police

The West Midlands Police reported the second highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in the UK, with a total of 3,104. In total, the losses suffered by victims was £1,400,000 in the regions that they cover. The highest number of these cases were recorded in July 2020, at 383 cases.

3.    Greater Manchester Police

Greater Manchester Police reported the third highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in the UK, totalling 2,838 overall. These cases resulted in losses of £1,500,000 for victims in total. The highest number of cases were reported in May 2020.

4.    Thames Valley Police

The police force reporting the fourth highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases was Thames Valley Police, who reported 2,678 cases in total between January and October 2020. In total, victims suffered £1,700,000 in losses from fraud in these regions and the highest number of cases were reported in June 2020.

5.    Police Scotland

Police Scotland reported the fifth highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in total, with 2,418. In terms of financial losses from this, victims lost a reported £1,400,000 in this time. The highest number of cases were reported in June 2020.

6.    West Yorkshire Police

The West Yorkshire Police force lost the sixth highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases, with 2,372 cases overall – most of which were reported in June 2020. In total, the losses suffered by victims was £1,100,000 in the regions that they cover.

7.    Essex Police

The police force with the seventh highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases was Essex Police, with 1,974 recorded between January and October 2020. As a result of these cyber attacks – most of which were reported in May 2020 – victims suffered a reported total loss of £1,200,000.

8.    Kent Police

Kent Police force had the eighth highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases between January to October of 2020, with 1,935 in total – all of which resulted in £939,500 worth of losses suffered by victims in this time. The highest proportion of these cases were reported in June 2020.

9.    Hampshire Constabulary

The ninth largest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases were recorded among the Hampshire Constabulary – 1,911 in total. This equated to £918,000 worth of losses suffered by victims in this time. Our research found that most of these cases of online fraud were reported in June 2020.

10.  Devon and Cornwall Police

Devon and Cornwall Police had the tenth highest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in the UK, with 1,762 recorded. Each of these cases combined resulted in a reported £930,900 worth of losses. The highest number of cases were reported in June 2020.

The police forces reporting the least cases of fraud in 2020

1.    City of London Police

The City of London Police force reported the lowest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in 2020, with only 4 in total. Despite having only four cases in total, the City of London Police reported that victims suffered losses of a staggering £763,500 in total.

2.    Cumbria Constabulary

Cumbria Constabulary reported the second lowest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases between January and October 2020, with 447 recorded. Of all these cases, victims are reported to have lost £342,800 in total. The highest number of cases reported by this police force occurred in April 2020.

3.    Cleveland Police

Cleveland Police reported the third lowest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in 2020, with 504 cases in total – most of which occurred in October 2020. Of all cases reported by the police force, victims are reported to have lost around £366,100 in total.

4.    Dyfed-Powys Police

Dyfed-Powys Police force reported the fourth lowest total number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in the UK in 2020. The police force recorded 517 cases, which resulted in financial losses of £348,600 in total for all victims. The highest number of cases reported by this police force occurred in May 2020.

5.    Gwent Police

Gwent Police reported the fifth lowest total number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in the UK, with 524 in total. This force reported £262,200 worth of losses suffered by victims. The largest proportion of these cases were reported in May 2020.

6.    Warwickshire Police

Warwickshire Police reported the sixth lowest figure of online shopping and auction fraud cases in the UK, with 562. Overall, the force reported £272,700 worth of losses suffered by victims. The highest proportion of these cases were reported in May 2020.

7.    Durham Constabulary

With 591 online shopping and auction fraud cases, Durham Constabulary reported the seventh lowest number of cases in the UK. Overall, the police force reported that the total losses suffered by victims was £361,400. Between January and October 2020, Durham reported their highest number of cases in September.

8.    North Wales Police

Ranking as the force reporting the eighth lowest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases, North Wales Police reported 609 cases in total – the highest number of cases occurred in July 2020. Of all cases recorded, there are reportedly £764,800 worth of losses suffered by victims in total.

9.    Gloucestershire Constabulary

Gloucestershire Constabulary reported the ninth lowest number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in 2020, with 618. In total, the force reported £390,300 worth of losses for each of the victims. For Gloucestershire Constabulary, the highest number of cases occurred in July 2020.

10.   North Yorkshire Police

With the tenth lowest number of UK online shopping and auction fraud cases in 2020, North Yorkshire Police reported 700 cases. This equated to £355,300 worth of losses suffered by victims in total. Of all of the months studied, North Yorkshire reported their highest number of cases in May 2020.

The highest financial losses suffered by victims:

  1. Metropolitan Police – £6,300,000
  2. Thames Valley Police – £1,700,000
  3. Greater Manchester Police – £1,500,000
  4. West Midlands Police and Police Scotland – £1,400,000
  5. Essex Police – £1,200,000

When are you most likely to become a victim of online fraud?

May and June had the highest number of recorded online shopping and auction fraud cases between January and October 2020. This was shortly followed by July which saw seven police forces report their highest number of cases in that month. Two police forces reported their highest figures of fraud cases in September.

Tips on how to prevent online fraud

Darren James, cyber security expert at Specops, recommends the following:

  • Only purchase from trusted reputable suppliers.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication on the stores that you use.
  • If you create a new account on a store make sure you use a unique password. Don’t write it down on a piece of paper or share it, but do add it to a password manager if you have one.
  • If you receive an email claiming to come from an online retailer be wary if it’s marked as [SPAM]. Don’t click on any links in that email, instead go directly to the website and try to find the offer on their page. If you really must click on the link in the email make sure it goes to the legitimate online store’s website and not someone pretending to be them – you can do this by hovering over the link and looking at where it’s going to take you.
  • If you do click on any link, look for obvious signs of a clone website BEFORE you enter your credentials – e.g. that it’s got the Green Padlock in the URL bar, that the graphics on the site look “normal” and that there are no other spelling or grammar mistakes on the page.
  • Always make purchases using a credit card rather than debit card or bank transfer. That way you usually have some comeback against the card company if the transaction goes bad for whatever reason.
  • Finally – if you find a bargain that looks too good to be true, it probably is – so as with any purchase buyer beware!

Methodology:

1) Specops Software analysed data from National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to discover how many cases of online shopping and auction fraud 44 different Police forces across the UK have reported between January – October 2020.

2) What is online shopping and auction fraud?: “Shopping and auction fraud involves fraudulent shopping scams that rely on the anonymity of the internet” – as defined by Action Fraud

3) To achieve this, Specops Software utilised the NFIB fraud and cybercrime dashboard tool.

4) For each Police force included in the research the following filters were selected on their tool: Crimes by code: NFIB3A – online shopping and auction fraud, manual data selector: 01/01/2020 to 31/10/2020 and type of victim: individual

5) Once these filters were applied for each Police force, the total number of cases for each month between January to October 2020 were added together to provide a collective figure for the total number of online shopping and auction fraud cases that have occurred per Police force between January to October 2020.

6) Alongside the total number of cases, the total losses figure from all of the reported cases by each Police force was also recorded as a part of the research to show from x number of online shopping and auction fraud cases, individuals have collectively lost an x amount financially from falling victim to online shopping and auction fraud crime between January 2020 to October 2020.

7) Data for the following Police forces was collated but not included in the final research: Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Isle of Man Constabulary, Jersey Police and Guernsey Police.

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