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Cybercrime and fraud scale revealed in annual figures

Date: January 19, 2017
Source: Computer Crime Research Center


There were an estimated 3.6 million cases of fraud and two million computer misuse offences in a year, according to an official survey.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales included the offences for the first time in its annual report, which covered the year to September.

Separate figures recorded by police showed an 8% rise in offences overall.
The Office for National Statistics said crime recording improvements meant the police figures could not reveal trends.

'Crime has changed'

John Flatley, from the ONS, said: "In the past, burglary and theft of vehicles were the high-volume crimes driving trends but their numbers have fallen substantially since then.
"When the crime survey started [35 years ago], fraud was not considered a significant threat and the internet had yet to be invented.

"Today's figures demonstrate how crime has changed, with fraud now the most commonly experienced offence."
Sir Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, told the You and Yours programme on BBC Radio 4 that many frauds went undetected and a great deal never got reported to the police.

"The amount of fraud that is taking place now is probably in epidemic proportions," he added. "The police are having to work very, very hard to keep up with even the ones they know about.

"The capability at police forces is quite skeletal and that needs to change and change a great deal."
The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for crime and incident recording, Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, said forces were working with the Home Office, police and crime commissioners, and industry experts to develop new tactics to fight cybercrime.

"The ability to commit crime online demonstrates the need for policing to adapt and transform to tackle these cyber challenges," he said.

Cyber and fraud: What is being counted?

Bank and credit account fraud - meaning criminals accessing bank accounts, credit cards or fraudulently using plastic card details
"Advance fee fraud" - crimes where the victim has been tricked into handing over cash after a communication, such as a lottery scam
"Non-investment fraud" - criminals conning a victim into buying something, often online, perhaps through a bogus phone call or email.
Other frauds including investment or fake charity scams
There are two broad categories of "computer misuse" crimes:
Unauthorised access to personal information, including hacking
Computer virus, malware or other incidents such as "DDoS" attacks aimed at online services
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Des Dillon, who runs a student accommodation company, told BBC Radio 5 live he had become a victim of cybercrime after being tricked into giving away information that led to the loss of 230,000 from his company bank account.

"Over a couple of phone calls, he asked me for various [information], third number, fourth number and ninth letter, that type of thing, and obviously he put it together very quickly," he said.

"We've recouped [over] 100,000, we're outstanding 113,000. We managed to block and recoup the balance and now we're fighting [with the bank] about the other portion of it."

Katy Worobec, director of Financial Fraud Action UK, said banks had managed to stop 6 in every 10 targeted by criminals in the first half of 2016, but that people needed to be aware of the threat.
"While the industry invests in new systems to stop the criminals, fraudsters are increasingly targeting people directly," she said.

"Customers and businesses need to be alert to the threats posed by the continued rise in impersonation scams attempting to trick them out of their personal details and money."

Homicide rise

All but one police force - Nottinghamshire - recorded an increase in violent crime last year.
The largest percentage increases were logged by Northumbria Police, up 95%, Durham Police (73%), West Yorkshire Police (48%) and Avon and Somerset Police (45%).

Police recorded 695 homicides in the 12 months to the end of September - 125 more than the previous year.
This included the 96 cases of manslaughter resulting from the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, because the inquest verdicts were returned during the last recording period. Excluding those deaths, there was still a 5% rise in homicides.


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