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Rising Online Fraud Prompts New Government Investment

22 February 2010 - 14:15 by Simon Crisp

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Responding to a recent surge in email scams and online retail fraud in the UK, the government has announced a three-year, £4.3m investment targeted at combating internet fraud. As a core part of the initiative, a new 'cyber enforcement team' will be set up. This seems a progressive move towards creating the reality of safe shopping online - and is particularly bold given that no one has as yet been convicted by the UK authorities for such online scams.

The government response to email scams and shopping fraud appears to be a response to research recently compiled and released by the Office of Fair Trading. The figures contained in the report reveal the severity of the problem of online fraud, clearly showing why the governmental investment has been so immediate. As an example, the survey data shows that 75% of UK adults had received a scam email in the past year, with an estimated 10% of UK adults responding to at least one. Additionally, the figures reveal that just under half of the respondents to scams lost an amount of over £50, while 5% found themselves over £5000 out of pocket. In total, the official estimate is that these scams are responsible for a loss of around £3.5bn in the UK each year.

These email scams often lead to online shop fronts set up by the operators, offering 'exclusive' tickets to sold-out concerts or sports games - but in fact, the shops only act as a means by which to capture credit or debit card information when orders are placed. For this reason, when shopping online, it is always important to look for indicators that the website is valid and verified, such as the green address bar, Shopsafe or VeriSign logo.