Online shopping scams skyrocketed 65% during pandemic costing shoppers £69m

Online shopping fraud has skyrocketed by 65 per cent over the past year seeing online fraud victims lose a whopping £2.3 billion.

Fraud rates are continuing to skyrocket across the UK as consumers increasingly rely on the internet to complete everyday tasks, according to a new study by Which?

In the year to April 2021, the number of cases of online scams reported to Action Fraud rose by 33 per cent to over 413,000, compared to relatively modest rise of eight per cent a year earlier.

Online shopping fraud was by far the most prevalent, with more than 103,000 people stating they had fallen victim to shopping scams, more than the next three categories combined.

The average cost of an online shopping scam was £674, meaning UK consumers lost over £69 million last year.

READ MORE: Fashion retailers see huge spike in fraud as pandemic provides “veritable petri dish” for online abuse

Retail and consumer fraud, defined as when a product never arrives or doesn’t match the description, was also the third most prevalent type of online scam, costing the UK £152.7 million last year.

Which? also noted that these figures are likely massively underestimated as only around 10 per cent of all scams are reported to Action Fraud.

“Fraudsters have added to the suffering that many people have faced during the past year by using the pandemic and the increase in online shopping as a springboard for tricking a growing number of victims,” Which? Money Editor Jenny Ross said.

“Tech giants, banks, telecoms providers, regulators and the government need to keep up with the evolving tactics of scammers and make sure people cannot be targeted when going about everyday activities like shopping.

“The government’s Online Safety Bill must give online platforms a legal responsibility to identify, remove and prevent fake and fraudulent content on their sites – including the adverts often used by fraudsters as part of online shopping scams.”

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