ONS Reports Huge Spike in Cybercrime and Fraud During COVID-19

ONS Reports Huge Spike in Cybercrime and Fraud During COVID-19

Fraud and computer misuse offenses rose by 43% in the year ending June 2021 compared with the pre-COVID year ending June 2019, according to estimates from the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW).

Published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the figures further demonstrated the extent to which crime shifted to the digital space during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the UK. There was an estimated 14% decline in total crime excluding computer misuse and fraud in 2020/21 compared with 2018/19.

Computer misuse offenses, defined as fraudsters hacking or using computer viruses or malware to disrupt services, obtain information illegally or extort individuals or organizations, increased by 85% in 2020/21 compared with 2018/19, with a total of 1.8 million incidents estimated to have occurred. This was largely driven by a 161% rise in unauthorized access to personal information (including hacking). This included victims’ details being compromised via large-scale data breaches and victims’ email or social media accounts being compromised.

There was also an estimated 32% rise in fraud cases, according to the TCSEW. This appeared to be largely driven by substantial increases in “consumer and retail fraud” and “advance

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