More than £21m has been stolen from over 22,000 people in the UK by fraudsters offering fake help with computer issues, according to new figures.
Action Fraud, the specialist nationwide reporting point for cyber crime run by City of London police, has launched a campaign to educate people about Computer Software Service fraud.
It can start with either a phone call, an email or a pop-up message appearing on your computer, telling you there’s something wrong with it or with your internet connection, and claiming that it needs to be fixed.
The scammers will then demand payment to fix the issue, or they will trick victims into installing software on their computer which could allow the criminals to access personal and financial details.
Action Fraud stated it received 22,609 reports of Computer Software Service fraud with a total of £21,365,360 being lost over the last financial year.
According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, men and women are equally susceptible to being targeted by the fraudsters, and victims are on average 63 years old.
The bureau’s figures show that people living in London and Bristol are most likely to fall victim too.
Fraud became the most common type of crime in England and Wales in 2016 because of the increasing profits to be made through cyber fraud and computer misuse.
Protection advice from Action Fraud and City of London Police will be issued on their social media channels to help people learn how to protect themselves.
The forces are also encouraging businesses to warn customers that they will never be contacted in that way if any issues are detected.
City of London Police’s Lara Xenoudakis said: “These fraudsters prey on vulnerable victims, doing everything they can to convince them there is something wrong with their computer.
“They use this as a way to gain immediate and in some cases multiple payments from the victim.
“During this campaign week, we are asking people to do everything they can to protect themselves from this type of fraud and stop fraudsters from thinking that this is an easy way to make money from unsuspecting victims.”
Other officers are also contributing to the campaign.
WE CAN ALL LEND A HAND 🖐🏼 TO STOP FRAUD!
Fraudsters want to get into the homes /lives of people in our communities.
— Tony Murray – National Protect Officer (@CityPoliceTell2) September 21, 2018
City of London Police’s protect officer Tony Murray has recorded a comedic video to inform people about fraud and is offering to spend the night in a “haunted” cell if his tweet receives 200 retweets.