The Office for National Statistics has reported that almost 6 million fraud and cyber crimes were committed last year in England and Wales.
Main findings from the organisation shows that there were an estimated 5.8 million fraud and computer misuse incidents.
Of this, 3.8 million incidents related to fraud, and 2 million were classified as computer misuse – around two-thirds (68%; 1.4 million incidents) of these were computer virus related and around one-third (32%; 0.6 million incidents) were related to unauthorised access to personal information (including hacking).
UK government investing in cybersecurity
Speaking to the BBC, Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Fraud and cyber offences are not a new threat and the government has been working to get ahead of the game, committing to spend £1.9bn on cybersecurity and cybercrime over the next five years.”
Lewis added they were “offences which we have always known were happening but were previously unable to quantify”.
“Having an accurate national picture will be crucial to inform future action,” he said.
In the last 12 months, there was a 5% increase in the number of fraud offences recorded in England and Wales (up to 621,017 offences) compared with the previous year, ONS said.
This increase is owed to fraud offences referred by Cifas, which increased by 16% (up to 298,968) compared with the previous year.
Most common types of cybercrime
At 2.5 million recorded incidents (66% of the total), “Bank and credit account” fraud is the most common type of fraud according to ONS. This was closely followed by “non-investment” fraud, defined as fraud related to online shopping or fraudulent computer service calls. This type of fraud saw 1.0 million recorded incidents or 28% of the total.
Paul Taylor, UK Head of Cyber Security at KPMG, said: “The cybercrime and fraud statistics in the latest ONS crime survey are deeply concerning, but not surprising. More than half of the 3.8 million incidents of fraud against the individual are cyber related, with a further 2 million incidents of computer misuse, hacking and viruses. It’s clear that crime is becoming cyber enabled as our world becomes digital. Greater transparency around the scale of this problem is vital, helping set the national priorities for law enforcement resources, and underlining the need for industry and government to work together to combat this growing menace.”
Costs to UK businesses
Highlighting the ultimate cost to businesses, Gerry Carr, Commercial Direct at Ravelin, a UK fraud-detection company said: “3.8M fraud offences reflects the reality we are seeing with our customer base of online businesses. But the cost of this crime is being borne not so much by individuals, although there is huge inconvenience, but by online businesses up and down the country in the form of chargebacks. The only option for these merchants is to take all the precautions they can to ensure transactions are legitimate, while still making for a pleasant online shopping experience for its customers. It’s a tricky balance in a next day delivery and on-demand world and we can see that many are struggling to do so.”
Edited from sources by Cecilia Rehn.