Computer crime and fraud soar during the Covid pandemic


The dramatic increase in fraud and misuse of computers leads to increased levels of crime.

While crimes like theft and burglary have plummeted due to the lockdown, postal delivery scams and hacking have pushed up overall rates.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that crime levels in the year to September 2021 were still affected by the pandemic and government restrictions.

Overall there has been a 14% increase in total crime compared to the pre-pandemic period, based on the results of the Telephone Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW), driven by a 47% increase in fraud and misuse of computers.

However, without these fraud and computer misuse offenses, levels fell by 14%, largely due to an 18% decrease in theft offences.

According to TCSEW estimates, adults aged 18 and over were victims of 12.9 million offenses in the year ending September 2021, including fraud and computer misuse.

The Crime Survey is considered the best estimate of overall crime, as it asks people about all incidents they may have experienced in the past year, not just those they reported. to the police.

One in five people (22.1%) said they had been the victim of a crime in the year to September 2021, according to the TCSEW.

In this context, one person out of 11 said they had been the victim of fraud (8.9%) and one out of 28 (3.6%) had been the victim of misuse of the computer.

TCSEW estimates showed there were 5.1 million fraud offenses in the year ending September 2021, a 36% increase from the year ending September 2019 .

This included sharp increases in advance charge fraud, consumer and retail fraud and other fraud, with the ONS saying the increase may indicate that fraudsters are taking advantage of behavioral changes linked to the pandemic , such as increased online shopping and increased savings.

For example, advance fraud offenses included scams where victims transferred funds to fraudsters for postal deliveries; other frauds included investment opportunity scams.

Of these fraud incidents last year, 31% resulted in no loss, 43% had the loss fully reimbursed, while a minority (26%) resulted in loss of money or property, with no reimbursement or only partial.

According to the TCSEW, there were 1.9 million computer misuse offenses in the year ending September 2021, an 89% increase from the year ending in September 2019.

This is largely due to a 161% increase in crimes involving unauthorized access to personal information (including hacking). This included compromising victims’ details via large-scale data breaches, and compromising victims’ email or social media accounts.

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