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Millions fell victim to fraud and cyber criminals in past year

More than seven million fraud and cyber crimes were committed over the past year in England and Wales, the first official estimates of the offences have shown.

An estimated 5.1 million incidents of fraud – impacting 3.8 million adult victims – and 2.5 million incidents of cyber crime were recorded.

The Crime Survey of England and Wales found overall crime fell by 8% from last year with an estimated 6.5 million offences, its lowest level since the survey began in 1981.

Yet there was an alarming rise in sexual offences recorded by police, which increased 41% on the previous year.

Officers recorded a total of 31,621 rapes and 63,861 other sexual offences – the highest level since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002/03.

  • 5.1m – Incidents of fraud.
  • 2.5m – Incidents of cyber crime.
  • 4.3m – Separate crimes recorded by police.
  • 31,621 – Incidents of rape recorded by police.
  • 63,861 – Sexual offences (excluding rape) recorded by police.

Separate police recorded crime figures, which are compiled in a different way to the Crime Survey, showed an increase of 5% with 4.3 million incidents.

Though the police figures found violent crime showed no “significant” change on the previous year, there were increases in the more serious categories of police recorded violence.

Violence resulting in injury rose by 16%, while possession of a knife or sharp instrument increased by 9%.

The latest police figures showed just under 600,000 fraud offences were reported to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

The Office for National Statistics said its estimates for fraud and cyber crime were significantly higher than those suggested by the police recorded figures and cited a “number of reasons” for the difference.

  • The profile of cases covered by the CSEW cover the full spectrum of harm or loss. Reporting rates are likely to be lower in cases where there is low or no harm, but merely inconvenience, to the victim.
    – Office for National Statistics

More than half of fraud and cyber crime victims suffered financial loss, the survey found, with 78% getting some financial compensation and 62% being fully reimbursed.

UK bank account holders were urged this week to protect themselves from cyber attacks after criminal hackers stole £20 million from accounts.

The warning from the National Crime Agency (NCA) came after thieves used “particularly virulent” malware to siphon money from the accounts of innocent victims.

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