Norfolk is the dating fraud capital of England and Wales, Surrey is the hotspot for investment scams, and mid-Wales suffers cold calling computer cons. That’s according to new analysis by Which?.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, Which? collated thousands of fraud reports from Action Fraud, the main reporting body for UK fraud. The data also reveals Dorset as the capital of computer virus, malware and spyware scams, while Northamptonshire is the capital for online shopping and auction fraud reports.
Elsewhere, Dyfed-Powys was the capital for computer-repair fraud reports. In this type of scam, a fraudster phones pretending there’s a fault with your computer and then demands a fee for fixing it. Which?’s research suggests that this fraud – which has soared 47 per cent in two years – tends to target areas with an older population.
Meanwhile, regular-payment fraud – where a fraudster persuades you to re-route a regular payment by posing as, say, your energy company – is reported more in areas with higher house prices, such as London and Surrey.
Action Fraud’s figures reveal that 264,204 frauds were reported in 2016 – up 10.7 per cent on 2015. But not every fraud is reported to Action Fraud. A survey by the Office for National Statistics suggests there may be as many as 5.4 million fraud and computer misuse cases a year.
Gareth Shaw, Which? money expert, thinks there is little doubt that online fraud is on the rise: ‘This research highlights how reported fraud in the UK is on the increase and the kinds of scams you are most likely to fall victim to will depend on where you live.
‘These criminals are constantly finding new ways to rip us off and those tackling fraud should be upping their game. The government needs to set out an ambitious agenda to tackle fraud, while law enforcement agencies need to be working harder to identify and protect the people most at risk from fraud.’
Which? has created a map detailing the fraud hotspots. You can see it here. However, although cheque, plastic card and online bank fraud was the fourth most commonly reported fraud, it’s not on the map because some reports are made by banks so the location is that of the bank, not the victim.
Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator