Young people targeted by ruthless online scammers

 If you thought that young people were too tech savvy to be caught out by online shopping scams, you’d be wrong. 

Police data collated during the pandemic suggests that people in their 20s were most likely to fall victim to fraudsters.

According to figures from reporting service Action Fraud, 389,328 fraud cases were reported by victims in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the 12 months to April 2021 with total losses from all scams reaching £1.7 billion.

The data shows that the largest number (77,500) of scam reports overall came from 20 to 29-year-olds. Young people, who use internet-connected technology most frequently, are being targeted but police officers stress that fraudsters are tricking people of all ages. 

Investigators also fear that many thousands of predominantly older people are too embarrassed to report what has happened. They are urging anyone who has been tricked to report their case quickly to help catch those behind the schemes.

Most common was fraud from online shopping and the number of cases rose by 44% to 95,531 over the year – a time when stores were closed due to lockdown and many people turned to internet shopping.

Scammers used social media and other channels to advertise items – or even pets – that never arrived after a deposit or the full price was paid.

The second most common method of fraud in the last year was so-called advance fee fraud. This includes a scam seen regularly during lockdown in which victims receive a bogus text asking them to click on a link and pay a delivery fee. 

SW&A recommends that you follow the National Cyber Security Centre’s top tips to avoid falling victim to scams: 

  • Use a strong and separate password for your email.
  • Create strong passwords using three random words.
  • Save passwords in your browser.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA).
  • Back up your data.
  • Update your devices. 

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Citizens Online, which has more than 400 digital champions and a free digital support helpline on 0808 196 5883.