Fraud and computer misuse escalates as bank accounts attacked

New research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests there were nearly six million incidents of fraud and computer misuse last year in England and Wales, most of it relating to bank and credit account fraud

The ONS has extended its Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) to cover these areas, and first estimates indicate 5.8m incidents of fraud and computer misuse were experienced by adults aged 16 and over in England and Wales for the year ending March 2016.

Fraud accounted for almost two-thirds of this estimated total (3.8m offences) with the majority of these relating to bank and credit account fraud – that is, fraudulent access to bank, building society or credit card accounts or fraudulent use of plastic card details (2.5m incidents).

The figures are separate from the ONS headline estimate that a total of 6.3m crimes were perpetrated against adults in the year to March - a 6% fall in the number of crimes compared to the previous year.

John Flatley, of the ONS, said: 'This is the first time we have published official estimates of fraud and computer misuse from our victimisation survey. Together, these offences are similar in magnitude to the existing headline figures covering all other crime survey offences.’

Separate ONS research on plastic card fraud found that 4.7% of plastic card owners were victims of card fraud in the year ending March 2016, which aligns with the new CSEW experimental statistics which indicated 4.5% of adults to have been a victim of bank and credit account fraud in the last year.

ONS analysis suggests that unlike victims of violence, victimisation from fraud was greater in higher income households of £50,000 or more (9.1%) than lower income households of less than £10,000 (5.6%).

Individuals in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to be a victim of fraud (8%) than individuals in routine or manual occupations (5.3%), full-time students (4.4%) and those who have never worked or are in long term unemployment (3.8%).

The large majority of victims of fraud had been a victim only once (84%), although repeat victimisation (within the same 12 month crime reference period) was more common among victims of bank and credit account fraud (14%) than other types of fraud.

Almost two-thirds of fraud incidents involved initial loss of money or goods to the victim (62%), independent of any reimbursement received. This equates to an estimated 2.3m offences, compared with 1.4m incidents of fraud involving no loss.

Victims received a full reimbursement in 43% of fraud incidents (1.6m), typically from their financial provider. In 690,000 cases, the victim received no or only partial reimbursement.

Where money was taken or stolen from the victim, in just under two-thirds of incidents the victim lost less than £250 (64%). With regard to computer misuse, 22% of incidents involved loss of money or goods, all relating to computer viruses (442,000 incidents).

The ONS says the extent of cyber crimes varied by type of offence. As expected, almost all computer misuse offences (97%) involved the use of the internet in some way (compared to 3% where the internet was not involved), while it was reported to have been involved in less than half of all bank and credit account frauds (43%).

ONS overview of fraud statistics is here.

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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