ONS data reveals significant increase in investment fraud
Fraud related to government grants has soared
Data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed instances of fraud reported in England and Wales grew substantially in the year to September 2021.
The most notable rise seen was in fraud relating to financial investments, which was up 42 per cent year on year, driven by a 59 per cent increase in pyramid or ponzi schemes and a 57 per cent increase in share or bond sale scams.
Other substantial increases were seen in: computer-based fraud, with reported denial of service attacks increasing by 28 per cent over the year; fraud involving government grants which surged by 73 per cent, and insurance fraud, which also saw a significant increase of 73 per cent.
Mary Young, fraud partner at law firm Kinglsey Napley said: “Fraudsters will always take advantage of uncertainty to exploit weaknesses wherever they find them. This can be in large or small companies or with individuals, particularly investors who are not necessarily savvy when it comes to their finances and have perhaps been spending longer online.
“Whilst a degree of normality may be returning to life, companies need to be vigilant and robust in dealing with instances of fraud in order to minimise financial losses. A regular audit of internal processes can highlight gaps in systems which might be exploited, and legal advice should be obtained as quickly as possible if there is any suspicion of fraud”.
She added: “Yet again things like dating scams and phone frauds show that fraudsters continue to pray on unsuspecting individuals. Requests for payment from people met online or from someone calling out of the blue should always be treated with suspicion.”
A recent hit show released on Netflix, The Tinder Swindler, told the true story of a 31-year-old man named Shimon Hayut, who went by the alter ego of Simon Leviev, and used the dating app Tinder to meet and defraud women of an estimated $10m over a number of years. Leviev was convicted of fraud, theft and forgery and sentenced to 15 months in prison in December 2019, though he denies he is a conman.