CYBERCRIME is costing people in Warwickshire up to £2.5million a year.
The findings were revealed earlier this week at a special conference, which was part of a programme of measures to increase awareness of cybercrime.
Residents were asked to share their experiences of online crime through a series of questions as part of the ‘Cybercrime – The Real Story’ survey.
Commissioned jointly by Warwickshire County Council and the office of Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the survey revealed nearly a quarter of a million people in the county feel at risk online.
The survey found 82,200 people in Warwickshire had fallen victim to online crime in the last 12 months and over half of respondents were targeted by phishing scams with one in ten going on to become victims.
Around 2.4 per cent of respondents admitted they had no idea to protect themselves online while nearly one third of parents confessed they had neither applied online restrictions nor spoken to their children about internet safety.
The number one reason cited for people not reporting cybercrime was they didn’t think anyone could help.
And the survey, which was carried out by the Warwickshire Observatory, also showed Under18s were the most targeted age group for online harassment or bullying with female respondents targeted twice as much as males.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball said: “The numbers of potential victims uncovered by the survey is staggering and shows cybercrime now represents one of the most significant challenges we face.
“Many people don’t realise they have become a victim, are too embarrassed to come forward or simply don’t believe anything can be done.
“Armed with the data from this survey we now have a more accurate picture, which will allow us to target our resources more effectively.
“It’s clear cybercrime and internet fraud are booming and the nature of policing will have to change to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated ways criminals are exploiting online vulnerabilities.
“In Warwickshire we have already invested in a range of initiatives to tackle cybercrime but there is more to be done.
“The conference marks the start of a renewed effort to tackle cybercrime as well as raising awareness so people can take practical steps to avoid becoming a victim.”
Coun Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “Cybercrime is a growing community safety issue as victims can be seriously affected, not just financially but also emotionally, with feelings of depression and sometimes worse.
“The economic impact on businesses of cybercrime is also something that cannot be underestimated.”
And Chief Constable Martin Jelley of Warwickshire Police, said: “We take the threat posed by cyber criminals very seriously.
“We are absolutely committed to tackling this growing crime type and are working hard to shape the future policing response to both cyber and cyber-enabled crime.”
Visit www.warwickshireobservatory.org for a full copy of the report or www.warwickshire.police.uk/becybersmart for information about how to keep safe online.