Following a Freedom of Information request submitted to Action Fraud UK, Which? has published a map revealing the UK’s fraud hotspots. The analysis reveals that instances of reported fraud have increased by more than 10% to 264,204 in 2016.
The map highlights significant differences in the likelihood of falling victim to different types of fraud across the country:
- London unsurprisingly sees far higher than average rates of many types of fraud. It is a hotspot for fake loans, social media and email hacking, telecom industry fraud and regular payment fraud, which tends to hit wealthier consumers and businesses. Regular payment fraud soared by 134 % over the two years to 2016 and is almost twice as prevalent in London compared with other areas of the UK.
- Surrey residents and individuals are more likely to fall foul of investment fraud than anywhere else in the UK, reporting double the number of incidents of financial investment fraud compared with the national average.
- Dorset has been revealed as a key technology fraud target, with 3.8 reports of computer virus, malware and spyware fraud for every 10,000 compared with general average of 2.3.
On the back of its report, Which? is urging the government to set out an ambitious agenda to tackle fraud, ensuring that companies have more stringent safeguards around people’s personal data and do more to ensure that people get appropriate redress when they become a victim.
Stephanie Silverston, a Trainee Solicitor at Mishcon de Reya says on behalf of the Fraud Defence Group:
Whilst fraud and cyber-crime are global problems, this fraud map highlights which types of fraud people should be most vigilant about in each area of the UK. The investment and regular payment fraud statistics in Surrey and London are of particular concern.
Regular payment fraud, where people are duped into changing a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer by someone pretending to be from an organisation the victim regularly pays, is on the rise. Individuals and businesses should be careful if they are ever contacted about changing recipient bank details, particularly if it is from someone with whom they do not regularly deal. They should always follow up with an email and telephone call to their usual finance contact to check whether the change of recipient instruction is genuine. The current climate requires vigilance to reduce the chances of individuals and businesses falling victim to fraud.
Mehmet Karagoz, an Associate in Mishcon de Reya ‘s Fraud Defence Group says:
Unfortunately, fraud is on the rise and more must be done to defend against it. This starts by undertaking a thorough fraud risk assessment to identify the vulnerabilities that are specific to the business or individual concerned, and then having in place a system for detecting and reacting to a discovery of fraud. In order to maximise the chances of successfully recovering the losses from a fraud, the first step should always be to contact a fraud expert that is experienced in advising on tracing and recovering assets. Civil fraud lawyers can advise victims on obtaining disclosure of bank account details of suspected fraudsters to trace the movement of funds once a payment is made and potentially freezing the fraudsters’ bank accounts and assets.
Victims of fraud are often surprised by the refusal of their own banks to provide information on what has happened to their money once transferred outside of their account or voluntarily assist in the recovery process. By contacting a civil fraud expert at the outset, victims are able to take control of the investigation and maximise their chances of successfully recovering their losses. Knowing what to do and who to contact when a fraud is uncovered is the key to a successful recovery.