Almost all types of crime fell during the first lockdown – police reported 5.6 million crimes in 2020, down 8% on 2019. Although domestic violence and antisocial behaviour rose as a consequence of lockdown measures, generally the country enjoyed a much safer year than normal.
But while misdemeanours on our streets plunged, cyber-crime rates in 2020 hit an all-time high. The Office of National Statistics recorded 4.4 million victims of cyber-crime in the UK last year, accounting for £2.3bn in losses.
The uncertainty, fear and anxiety around a global crisis were just the types of emotions cyber criminals could build their phishing campaigns around. And their tactics were made even more effective with the majority of people working from home – without their employer’s security systems as a first line of defence, workers were left much more exposed.
The types of methods they’ve used have been wide ranging. One example has been the rise in cryptocurrency fraud. Cryptocurrencies have gained publicity recently and piqued people’s curiosity, making them an ideal vehicle for unscrupulous activity.
In an article with Raconteur, Director General at the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), Graeme Biggar, says more scams are asking for cryptocurrencies as their method of payment as it’s quicker and harder to trace.
False online adverts promoting inflated investment opportunities and goods at exaggerated prices also saw a surge in 2020.
And fraudsters are catching young people and students out on social media with money mule adverts – scams where victims are offered payment to move funds from one account to another, essentially laundering money unknowingly.
The police have, however, had some success rooting out some of the culprits. The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit has shut down 1,600 social media accounts linked with fraudulent activity, 500 of which were being used to recruit young money mules.
Sadly, as social distancing measures were eased between July and September, traditional crime categories started to increase. Especially in those areas where employment levels were at their lowest.
According to a report by the LSE Centre of Economic Performance, parts of the country that have experienced high levels of unemployment as a result of the pandemic were showing higher than normal rates of anti-social behaviour.
So while some types of crime dropped in 2020 but never went away, new ones formed, and online criminals grew in numbers and sophistication. We’ll be doing a series of cyber blogs in the next few months to take a closer look at emerging risks and what public services can be doing to protect their staff and systems.
We can help with cyber cover
At RMP, we have a partnership with one of the UK’s leading providers of cyber insurance, PEN underwriting, and we’d be happy to talk you through the scope of cyber cover in detail. For more information, you can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published date: 16th September 2021
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