U.K. Fraud Increase: Real Crime or More Effective Reporting?

July 22, 2013

In the U.K., traditional crime is waning. Unfortunately, the greener pastures criminals have moved to in Britain seem to include the online world. Overall, crime for the year ending March 2013 in the U.K. is down by 9 percent from the same time a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics. Reports of fraud, on the other hand, rose 27 percent last year.

The ONS report said online fraudulent actions such as credit card fraud, bogus online auctions and online dating fraud are on the way up. The report found that 22,694 online auctions and sales-related crimes have been recorded in 2013, while another 11,048 involved “computer misuse” such as hacking and viruses. There were a similar number of reported plastic-card frauds, including credit, debit and store cards. ONS officials did suggest the significant jump in fraud numbers could be the result of a new centralized fraud-reporting mechanism in Britain called Action Fraud or an increase in actual incidences of fraud.

“This is a new area of crime that is on the rise,” said John Flatley, head of crime at the ONS. “However, it is difficult to determine how much that is due to an increase in prevalence of crime or an increase in publicity for Action Fraud.”