Online Scammers Net More Than 16,000 Victims With COVID-19 Shopping Scams

Online fraudsters have made more than £17m (AUD $30.6 million) from more than 16,000 successful scams over the COVID-19 lockdown period, according to a recent report. 

The report comes from Action Fraud, who warned that despite their technical literacy, young shoppers were most likely to fall victim to a scam. 

The largest group impacted by online shopping scams were between the age of 18 and 26, according to the report. 

The UK’s National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Center has said that online scams have impacted more than 16,352 victims since the beginning of the lockdown as retail stores closed their doors in March. 

With no physical avenue of shopping, those turning to online stores have been increasingly targeted by scammers and fraudsters.

The most common means of scamming individuals were sales of vehicles (22%), mobile phones (19%) and electronics (10%) that never arrived at the purchaser’s address. 

The report found that eBay and Facebook’s marketplace feature were the most used platform for fraud, accounting for 18% of the scams. Gumtree and Depop were responsible for 10% and 6% respectively. 

Pauline Smith, Action Fraud’s chief said that “it’s important to shop on sites you know and trust. If you’re using a site you’ve not used before, do your research and check reviews before making a purchase.” 

She continued to explain that consumers should be “wary of emails, texts and social media posts that offer products for considerably less than their normal price – this is a common tactic used by criminals. Where possible, use a credit card to make online purchases as this will offer you more protection if anything goes wrong,” Smith said. 

Ben Tuckwell, manager at RSA Security has told Infosecurity Magazine that “the recent shift to e-commerce has been critical for both consumers and the economy, but fraudsters have been quick to take advantage, too.” 

“In fact, in the first three months of 2020, RSA recovered details of over five million unique compromised cards globally,” Tuckwell said. 

“Banks, card issuers and retailers alike must also step up the war on fraudsters,” he continued to explain, “both in times of crisis and in the future as shopping increasingly moves online. Pioneering businesses are already applying machine learning to better predict whether a payment is likely to be fraudulent,” Tuckwell concluded. 

For more information on ISO 27001 – Information Security Management Systems – or for your free ISO 27001 Gap Analysis Checklist, please click here 

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