Internet scams rocketing during pandemic

Fraudsters have fleeced more than £40m from Greater Manchester residents during the pandemic – with most victims stung in online shopping scams.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 12:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th April 2021, 12:45 pm

Fraudsters have fleeced more than £40m from Greater Manchester residents during the pandemic – with most victims stung in online shopping scams.

Criminals have taken advantage of the rise in internet purchases as well as concerns over health and wellbeing through the crisis, says Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud and cyber crime authority.

In the GM city region, 16,938 incidents of fraud and cyber-crime were reported from the start of February last year to the end of March this year, according to data from Action Fraud. The value of the crimes amounted to £41.7m: the equivalent of around £9,835 each day.

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Internet scams have shot up during the Covid pandemic

Greater Manchester’s figure could be higher with some 23,600 reported offences in the UK – worth £469.4m – not recorded to a specific police force area. A spokesperson for Action Fraud said: “In what has been an incredibly challenging year, we have sadly seen devious criminals taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic as a means to commit fraud.

“To carry out their scams, criminals have been honing in on people’s anxieties and the changes that have occurred to our daily lives, such as the fact we have all been shopping online more.”

Consumer group Which? said the figures showed online purchase scams were now being running on an “industrial scale” – and accused tech giants of not doing enough to protect users.

Adam French, consumer rights expert, said: “The coronavirus crisis has meant that more people are shopping online than ever before, while opportunistic scammers have been coming up with increasingly sophisticated tactics to steal people’s money.

“Search engines and social media sites have some of the most sophisticated technology in the world, yet they are failing to use it to protect their users from scammers abusing the platforms through fake and fraudulent content.”

In response, Google, which runs the most-used search engine worldwide, said it had “strict policies” over advertisements run on its platform with 3.1 billion advertisements, including 123 million for financial services, blocked and removed last

year.

It also claims to block 100 million emails to users each day.

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