The Cost of UK Fraud Research Reveals What You Could Have Bought If Not for Online Scammers

The Cost of UK Fraud Research Reveals What You Could Have Bought If Not for Online Scammers
The Siliconreview
25 August, 2021

When it comes to online fraud, we all know someone who has fallen victim to a scam. You don’t have to have lost out on thousands of pounds to be a victim of fraud, it can be something as simple as your information being leaked or stolen from a legitimate website. Thankfully, due to dark web monitoring and other online fraud prevention tools, many of us who have fallen victim to leaked personal data don’t suffer financially.

However, even businesses, the police and the government monitoring the dark web, billions of pounds still fall into the hands of criminals every year, taken from the pocket of trusted members of the public, often their life savings.

How Much Does Fraud Cost the UK?

A recent study has revealed the cost of fraud in the UK for 2021, while only an estimate, the numbers are currently showing an accurate depiction of the cost so far. By the end of the year, the UK will have lost £17,616,998,75 to online criminals.

This is an extortionate cost. While many victims can claim this cashback through insurance or credit card providers, this is driving the cost of even everyday items up as these providers are forced to charge more for their services to cover these costs, leading to a drip of extra costs throughout the economy.

Let’s put this into perspective, if it weren’t for scammers stealing our hard-earned cash, over 1,755,100 cups of coffee could be purchased each day. In a single week, 3,974,826 family packs of toilet paper could have been purchased, which could have been incredibly useful at the beginning of the pandemic and the great toilet paper shortage.

In a fortnight, over 150,000 gaming fans could have purchased a PS5 and each month, over 24,900,000 Netflix subscriptions could be paid for.

Over the full course of 2021, we could have filled our tanks up with petrol over 34,381,000 times. With the average cost being roughly £50 each time, that’s a staggering amount of cars that could have been on the road.

Each day, fraudsters are creating new schemes to con us out of money or sensitive data and will take every opportunity possible to prey on us. Over the past 18 months, the pandemic has seen inventive ways for criminals to steal our cash. COVID loan fraud alone is set to cost tens of millions.

How Are Cyber Criminals Stealing Our Data?

Over recent decades, the public has become wiser to fraudulent activity. We know to always ask for ID for anyone coming to our front door who was not expected and that our banks will never call us and ask us to transfer money.

Online, this can be trickier. Of course, we know if a site appears ‘dodgy’ and simply doesn’t meet the standards we expect of a big brand, we avoid it and certainly don’t enter our credit card details anywhere.

But what if these sites meet all our expectations? One of the most common forms of fraud is known as typosquatting. An innocent internet user will type a URL into their browser but will accidentally create a typo without realising it.

Fraudsters have clocked on to how often this can happen, especially with well-known websites that don’t require a Google search. These scammers have purchased these domains with typos and created a copycat of the legitimate website.

These copycats are so convincing and mirror the original in every way, except these sites have no intention of providing you with products or services. Instead, they steal your details and your cash.

It isn’t just our favourite ecommerce stores that fall victim to this. Other businesses such as financial providers, utilities and even courier services have seen their sites copied on numerous occasions.

This is also replicated through smishing, another common form of scam. Mobile phone numbers are leaked onto the dark web and criminals purchase these to send mass messages out to the public. These messages appear to be from providers, asking the recipient to click a link to either ‘login’ to their account, allowing criminals to steal these login details and access accounts or to ‘make a payment for a service that does not exist to acquire card details.

How Is Typosquatting Being Tackled?

While these forms of criminal activity should be the responsibility of the government and the police to tackle, the reality is they are doing very little in response.

This means that individual businesses are now having to step up and do what they can to protect their customers. Every brand that is targeted by typosquatters is at risk of damaging its reputation, through no fault of its own.

As more people report being scammed by a copycat website, more members of the public will become reluctant to use their brand's website, even if it is the legitimate one, for fear of being scammed.

That’s why a dark web monitoring solution is required. This scans the dark web automatically to find if business data has been leaked and allows a business to protect this as soon as possible. Alongside a dark web monitoring service, domain monitoring protects customers.

Domain monitoring alerts businesses to any domains that are similar to their own that have been registered. With this, the proper action can be taken to have these domains taken down before any criminal activity can happen.

Companies can make a huge difference by ensuring they dedicate a team or staff member to tackling fraudulent activities around the brand. Ensuring that a business is trademarked will ensure takedown requests of these domains are taken seriously and actioned upon swiftly. These steps should be clear to the business and a step-by-step action plan should be made clear.

Need to Report Fraud?

While many people report fraud to the police, this is usually just for admin as any insurance claim requires a crime reference number. The police rarely have the resources to investigate a case of online fraud.

Therefore, the next course of action is to report to The National Cyber Security Centre or Action Fraud. Both of these independent organisations are dedicated to tackling online fraud and protecting everyone in the UK.