Cyber crime and online fraud come in many guises and sizes. Technology’s pervasive presence in our everyday lives has opened up a host of new avenues for criminals, as well as enabling old crimes to be committed in new and more subtle ways. Grooming, child sexual exploitation, data theft, phishing, malware, online scams, revenge pornography, sextortion have become all too familiar expressions.
Estimates of the cost of cyber crimes in the UK vary hugely. Partly this is due to wide variations in definition, and to the fact that it is certainly under reported. But there’s no doubt that cyber fraud ranges from attacks on a national, institutional and corporate scale by serious organised crime and terrorists, to losses by individuals, causing very personal suffering. In his Police & Crime Plan for the Thames Valley 2017-2021, Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld estimated the annual loss within the Thames Valley at £2 billions.
Report it to Action Fraud…
If you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime, you can report it to Action Fraud, via its online reporting service. You can also seek help and advice over the phone: by calling 0300 123 2040, you can talk to fraud and cybercrime specialists.
Your report will receive a police crime reference number. Action Fraud will then pass a report to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The police admits that it cannot investigate every report individually. But you are strongly encouraged to file a report, as your information will help to build up intelligence about fraud.
If you have experienced phishing attempts, but have not lost money or exposed personal details, these can be reported on Action Fraud’s ‘Report Phishing’ web page.
…but Prevention has to be the Key
But it’s also a sad truth that we can’t rely on effective protection from Government and Police. The scale of the problem is too great and complex, much of the loss is to overseas criminals, and the cost of successful prosecution means that only a small proportion of major fraud cases can ever be investigated by the Police.
Cyber Crime is therefore a classic example of prevention being the most effective response. Thames Valley Police and other agencies provide a great deal of information to help educate the public. Some of this is technical, some relates to our behaviour on the Internet.
Investment Phishing Scams
Many of us will be aware of scams using the names of celebrities to lure the unwary into bogus investments.
There is a way of reporting these, to prompt effective action. Report via firstname.lastname@example.org. In a news story published 14th August 2020, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reported that over the previous four months, it had taken down over 300,000 malicious URLs linking to fake celebrity-endorsed investment schemes featuring famous faces such as Sir Richard Branson and Martin Lewis.
Resources on Cyber Crime
Thames Valley Police page on Cybercrime. A very comprehensive page, including general advice to reduce your chances of becoming a victim and specific sections on:
- Email and text scams
- Social networking
- How to spot a fake website
- Backing up your data
- Tips for parents and guardians
National Cyber Security Centre – “How organisations and home users can reduce the likelihood of Malware infection”
National Cyber Security Centre – A series of infographics to bring technical guidance to life, free to print and re-use.
Get Safe Online – here are their back-to-basics tips that can help you to stay safe online.
Recent News from Action Fraud
- Don’t lose out before flying out: Action Fraud urge holiday makers to watch out for fraudsters online
- Fraudsters impersonate NCA officers in ‘child pornography’ scam emails
- Action Fraud warns of social media account and email takeover scams
- Action Fraud response to inaccurate coverage in Daily Mail
- Specialist victim care unit which supports thousands of vulnerable fraud victims rolled out across the UK
- Action Fraud warn of recent WhatsApp scam hitting community and religious groups
- Don’t get burnt before you’re on the beach: Action Fraud reports over £15m lost to holiday fraud in the past year
- Ticket to nowhere: don’t get ticked off with ticket fraud this summer
- Warning issued to WhatsApp users over account takeover scam
- Criminals are using the cost of living crisis to scam the public – don’t become a victim