Fraud in England and Wales is up again as cyber crime and credit card fraud increase

Alys Key
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Online crime accounted for more than half of fraud incidents (Source: Getty)

Incidences of fraud increased again this year in England and Wales, as more than half of crimes took place online.

According to the latest crime figures for the year to June from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there was a four per cent increase in fraud offences to over 653,000. This represents the fifth year in a row in which fraud has risen at this level.

But separate data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), which attempts to work out how many crimes have occurred in total rather than just those reported to the police, showed a much higher number.

Read more: City set to get new fraud and cyber crime courts hub near Fleet Street

The CSEW estimated that around 3.3m fraud offences took place in the year to June, and said that over half (57 per cent) of these were online.

Of the roughly 1.6m adults who experienced a computer misuse crime, about two thirds (67 per cent) were related to a computer virus. The rest involved personal data breaches, including hacking.

The most common form of fraud reported in the survey was bank and credit card fraud, with more than 2.5m incidents in the period.

Meanwhile, UK Finance reported that there was a three per cent increase in the volume of fradulent transactions reported on UK credit cards.

Read more: The state’s porn ID plans would lead to a credit card fraud boom

City of London fraud busts

The news comes as the City of London police ramp up efforts to catch fraudsters who operate out of reputable addresses in the Square Mile.

Police yesterday visited 20 offices with the City of London Corporation's Trading Standards in an attempt to uncover possible "boiler rooms".

“This multi-agency operation, allowed us to speak with multiple businesses and gather significant intelligence around various investments currently being traded in the City," commented chief superintendent Glenn Maleary.

“With our partners we want to ensure the City is a hostile environment for fraudsters to operate in and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that this is the case."

The police have called for greater awareness of binary options fraud in particular, which has scammed more than 2,000 people out of nearly £60m over the past five years. These fraudulent investment schemes are often run from City of London addresses to add a veneer of respectability.

Police found at least one company yesterday which had paid rent up front on a City office before disappearing. Investigations are now underway into whether this could have been a boiler room.

Read more: Square Mile scammer suspected of selling fake cryptocurrency

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