There were almost 6m cases of fraud and computer misuse in the UK last year

There were 5.8 million incidents of fraud and computer misuse in the UK last year, new data has found.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) made the estimates for the number of incidents, which it says were experienced by adults aged 16 and over in England and Wales for the year ending March 2016. 

The ONS defines computer misuse as unauthorised access to personal information (including hacking), where the respondent’s personal details have been accessed without their permission, or any virus, malware or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack which infects a PC or other connected device.

With regard to computer misuse, 22 per cent of incidents involved loss of money or goods, all relating to computer viruses (442,000 incidents).

Almost all computer misuse offences (97 per cent) involved the use of the internet in some way.

The large majority of victims of fraud had been a victim only once (84 per cent), although repeat victimisation (within the same 12 month crime reference period) was more common among victims of bank and credit account fraud (14 per cent) than other types of fraud.

Almost two-thirds of fraud incidents involved initial loss of money or goods to the victim (62 per cent), independent of any reimbursement received. This equates to an estimated 2.3 million offences, compared with 1.4 million incidents of fraud involving no loss.

Victims received a full reimbursement in 43 per cent of fraud incidents (1.6 million), typically from their financial provider. In 690,000 cases, the victim received no or only partial reimbursement.

In 49 per cent of non-investment frauds (such as fraud related to online shopping scams or fraudulent computer service calls) and 76 per cent of all other frauds (for example, lottery scams, pyramid or Ponzi schemes2 or charity fraud) there was no loss to the victim. 

Dave Webber, commercial strategy director at insurance and financial services firm LexisNexis Risk Solutions UK, said: "In an increasingly digital age, these figures illustrate just how vulnerable personal and corporate data is to attack. Today, most organisations can’t measure fraud consistently and so have no benchmark from which to measure current performance and, moreover, how advances in fraud defences are performing. Therefore companies should align fraud prevention with their overall business strategy.

"Deploying this type of information must be an organisation’s first line of defence against fraud. That said, as these figures mark the first time the ONS has measured fraud and cyber crime in full, it remains to be seen whether more organisations will respond in kind over the next 12 months.” 

Image source: Simon Stratford (FreeImages)

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