Fraud and computer misuse offences rose in Britain during the country’s anti-coronavirus lockdowns, according to data released this week by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Fraud crimes increased 23.7% to 4.64m, computer-related ones by 85.0% to 1.75m cases. Per 1,000 people, fraud affected 101 (up from 82) and computer misuse 38 (up from 21).

The comparisons are with the previous comparable survey for the year to March 2019. 

On fraud, which covers the likes of consumer, retail, advance fee, and bank and credit account fraud, the ONS said the rise “may represent fraudsters taking advantage of behaviour changes possibly related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as increased online shopping and increased savings.”

It added: “For example, advance fee fraud offences included scams where victims transferred funds to fraudsters for postal deliveries; other fraud included investment opportunity scams.

“Although there has been an increase in fraud offences, only 24% of these offences resulted in loss of money or property, with no or only partial reimbursement.”

The rise in computer misuse crimes was largely driven by a 162% increase to 1.34m in unauthorised access to personal information, such as hacking.

“This included victims’ details being compromised via large-scale data breaches, and victims’ email or social media accounts being compromised, and sometimes used to request money from their contacts,” the ONS said. 

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