A WORRYING report has estimated nearly £9m a year is being lost to online fraudsters in Warwickshire – prompting police to urge residents to take charge of their online safety.
The survey into online crime reveals record numbers of people falling victim to fraud, with an estimated £8.8million being lost across the county.
The report found nearly 10,000 people were victims of identity fraud, 6,000 people were targeted in hate crimes, and 5,500 people were duped by online romance scams in the county over the last year.
Another major issues identified was online ‘phishing’, where criminals pose as real companies to get personal information from victims. In the last year alone, nearly 15,000 successful hoaxes like this were reported.
Contrary to the alarming statistics, 87 per cent of people surveyed felt they were either ‘reasonably’ or ‘very’ confident about knowing how to protect themselves online.
And less than 1 per cent admitted to having no idea how to protect themselves.
The report, commissioned by Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, is the second of its kind and highlights a significant increase in online fraud since the first investigation in 2015.
Warwickshire County Council’s community safety spokesman Coun Howard Roberts described the findings as a ‘wake-up call’ for residents who need to take cyber security more seriously.
He said: “As we conduct more of our lives online, the risks posed to us all will increase exponentially each year.
“41 per cent of respondents do not feel at risk online. We want to remind those people that no one is immune from this type of crime.”
A new website called Cyber Safe Warwickshire has been launched to help people learn how to protect themselves.
Alex Gloster, one of Warwickshire’s cyber crime advisors, added: “There are simple steps residents can take to mitigate their exposure to risks online.
“The new website has been created to raise the profile of the issues and ensure the tide is turned on the number of people falling victim to online crime in its various guises.”
Visit cybersafewarwickshire.com to find out more.