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ONS reveals extent of fraud and cyber crime in the UK

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released new data revealing that almost six million fraud and cyber crimes were committed last year in England and Wales.

There were two million computer misuse offences and 3.8 million fraud offences over the course of the 12 month period until the end of March. These numbers show that fraud is the most common type of crime being committed in the UK.

This marks the first time that questions related to fraud have been added to the official Crime Survey for England and Wales. The figures released by ONS estimate that a total of 6.3 million crimes were committed against adults during 2015. However this is a 6 per cent decrease from the number of crimes that occurred in the previous year.

John Flatley, of the ONS explained why fraud and cyber crime were added to the survey, saying: “This is the first time we have published official estimates of fraud and computer misuse from our victimisation survey.”

“Together, these offences are similar in magnitude to the existing headline figures covering all other crime survey offences. However, it would be wrong to conclude that actual crime levels have doubled, since the survey previously did not cover these offences”

Bank and credit account fraud made up the most common types of fraud experienced with 2.5 million incidents. They were followed by “non-investment” fraud which includes scams related to online shopping.

The two million computer misuse incidents were mainly comprised of cases where a computer, mobile phone or other internet-connected device was infected with a virus which accounted for 1.4 million incidents. The other 0.6 million crimes were made up of cases related to “unauthorised access to personal information.”

ONS has made it clear that the fraud questions included in its crime survey were only added from October 2015. The data collected was then used to estimate what would have likely occurred throughout the whole survey year.

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Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.