Advanced Fee Fraud Surges by Over 600%

Advance fee fraud has increased eightfold between the year ending March 2020 and the year ending December 2022, potentially due to fraudsters taking advantage of changing patterns of behavior during pandemic, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The UK statistics authority said recorded cases of advance fee fraud rose by 60,000 to 454,000 over the period, even as bank account and credit fraud fell by 14%, from 2 .5 million to 2.1 million violations, and overall fraud numbers were unchanged. the 3.7 million registered in 2020.

Read more about cybercrime and fraud during the pandemic: ONS reports huge rise in cybercrime and fraud during COVID-19

Advance fee fraud occurs when a scammer tricks a victim into paying for an item or service that never shows up. Romance scams are a typical example, as are fraud events where a victim is told they’ve won a competition or inherited money from a dead relative, but need to pay a small fee to release the funds.

Unlike other types of fraud, banks often do not reimburse victims.

In January, Lloyds Bank warned of an 82% year-on-year rise in advance fee fraud by 2022, arguing that the cost of living crisis could have forced consumers to make risky decisions, such as applying for home loans which ones are charged an upfront “fee” for access.

To stay under the radar, fraudsters tend to focus on higher volumes of lower-value scams, with the average amount lost in 2022 just £711 ($881).

Andy Kays, managing director of UK cyber security firm Socura, argued that fraud is still more common than official figures seem to suggest.

“Violent crime is an extremely rare event in most people’s lives, while fraud is an everyday occurrence. Fraud, even these staggering numbers of upfront fee fraud, are massively underreported and even more so,” he added.

“If a millennial comes across a Facebook Marketplace scam or a text message from someone pretending to be their bank, they don’t even think about reporting it. They don’t even remember it. Entire generations have grown up with rampant online fraud. It’s the expectation, not the exception.”

Elsewhere, the ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) reported that computer misuse remained largely unchanged between the start of the pandemic and the end of last year, while that the volume of computer virus cases decreased by 69% during the same period.

Kays again questioned the veracity of the statistics.

“The more people have access to computers and the more we live our lives online, the more people will use these devices to scam and hurt people. The number is likely to be trending down because people are not reporting it , it’s just part of his life now,” he said.

“In 2023, computer misuse legislation needs an overhaul. Its penalties are too weak to protect people and it is too easy to evade detection. Most cybercriminals are never caught, and many of the actors most malicious are outside the jurisdiction of UK law enforcement, it begs the question, when do we revise it or do we start from scratch?

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Recent reports have uncovered startling new figures about advanced fee fraud. According to the latest data, the number of fraud cases involving advance fees has surged by over 600% since the beginning of the year. Investigators have worked hard to uncover and seize the illegal funds of the perpetrators, yet the fraud continues to rise.

As times become more difficult, unfortunately, so do the opportunities for these unscrupulous individuals. Without proper resources and expertise, businesses, entrepreneurs, and everyday citizens are particularly vulnerable to such con-artists. Therefore, it is essential to always be vigilant when approaching what may appear to be an attractive offer as there is an increased potential of becoming a victim.

Fortunately, there are steps businesses, individuals, and organisations can take to try and protect themselves. These include verifying any potential partners through a thorough background check, seeking out trustworthy and certified advice, and investing in security software.

At the forefront of these efforts are innovative high-tech companies, like Ikaroa, who are working hard to create and develop advanced security software that can warn businesses and individuals of any potential fraudulent threats. With their cutting-edge technology, smart algorithms, and big data analysis capabilities, Ikaroa is fully committed to providing the highest level of protection available today.

In conclusion, advanced fee fraud continues to be a serious issue and requires action from all of us. Businesses and individuals need to take proactive measures to protect themselves, while tech companies like Ikaroa must continue to develop advanced security solutions to improve the security systems available. It is only by working together that we can ensure the safest, most secure environment possible.


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