/ Money

Do you live in a fraud hotspot?

UK fraud hotspot

Latest Which? research has mapped fraud hotspots in the UK and revealed the ways that you could be targeted. So do you recognise any of these scams?

When we drilled down into the data, we found that some people could be more likely to be victims of certain types of fraud than others. We’ve picked out typical victim profiles for a few different fraud types.

Fraud patterns

The analysis of reported fraud suggests that where you live might affect what types of scams you’re likely to be exposed to. We looked at exclusive stats released to us by Action Fraud and managed to identify hotspots for several different types of fraud.

But we wanted to find out if there are more patterns in the data. What types of areas were being targeted by different types of fraud and whether there are any links between fraud and the average age of people in a certain area, for example?

In analysing the data we were able to identify hotspots for certain types of reported fraud – such as Norfolk being the capital for dating scams and Northamptonshire the capital of fraud against shops.

Unfortunately, full data for Scotland and Northern Ireland isn’t yet available as Scotland isn’t a member of Action Fraud and Northern Ireland only joined in 2015. To give you an indication of the most common types of fraud reported in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the graph below shows data collected between 2014-16.

Fraud targets

The data we looked at suggests that people living in areas with younger populations – like London, West Midlands and Bedfordshire – had higher rates of reported lender loan fraud, where people are duped into paying fees for fake loans.

However, areas with older average ages, like Dyfed-Powys, Dorset, and Devon and Cornwall, were much more likely to report falling victim to computer-fixing fraud. This type of scam where someone pretending to be from a tech company, like Microsoft, tells you there’s a problem with your computer and offers to fix it for a fee.

We decided to ask the police what the typical ‘victim profile’ for different types of frauds looked like, and their details confirmed our suspicions. The police said that victims of computer-fixing fraud were likely to be women, aged 70-79, living in rural areas. The average loss for this type of scam is about £90.

For reported cheque, card and online banking fraud, women are also marginally more likely to be victims than men, but the most common age category was 20-29.

Separate Office for National Statistics data also suggests that those in managerial and professional occupations (with disposable income) are more likely to be a victim of this type of fraud.

And those aged 30-39 were more likely to be victims of fake or stolen products fraud than any other age group. Remarkably, the data also suggests that men are 50% more likely to be victims than women, while police put the average loss at £5,000.

According to the reported cases of fraud, door-to-door sales fraud mainly targeted men aged 80-89. Victims were also more likely to live in urban areas where fraudsters can target multiple homes in a short period. The average loss for this type of fraud can be up to £4,000.

Fighting fraud

We don’t know for sure if fraudsters are actively targeting people in this way. However, with fraud on the rise nationally, we want the government to set out an ambitious agenda for tackling fraud and scams.

Have you spotted any of these scams in your local area? Do you know people that have fallen victim to them? Do you want the government to do more to protect victims of scams?

Jean Hamilto says:
21 June 2017

I find that telling various cold callers who, after confirming my name and address, then ask me my age bracket. I tell them I am in my early 90’s but that I really love having a chat to them, so please don’t ring off. Strangely enough they always do very quickly…funny that!

Gaynor Marwood says:
21 June 2017

Love this, haven’t tried this one yet, will give it a whirl.

Mike Giddy says:
21 June 2017

When I get a call from a company saying they are from a Microsoft preferred company I keep them on line as long as possible, i.e. waiting for my computer to boot up, finding my debit card ext. Then suddenly remember (false) I don’t use Windows but Linux.
The idea is while they are on the phone to me they are not bothering some one else. They get very angry and hang up

Dee Galloway says:
22 June 2017

Yes Mike, good one. I’ve had several similar experiences with this and have had them hold on for a good half hour on one occasion and then suddenly remembered that I am with Apple!!

Peter Ellis says:
23 June 2017

They (the scammers) also pretend to be from your internet service provider, e.g. BT. Try saying, I believe you but send me an email as I am too busy right now. If they ask for your email address you definitely know that it is a scam, so give them a polite ( or otherwise a rude) mouthful and tell them that you were not born yesterday. I did this and their being foreigners failed to understand the meaning of the term.


Lol that one they always do say i don’t have a computer and hang up.

SammyG says:
10 July 2017

The thing is they never say they’re from Microsoft, they always say they’re phoning from Windows ……. ……I always ask them which one of my 3 computers has the problem; which particular device IP address has the issue; if they don’t know this then I ask which Windows licence key is it; and when they can’t specify. I ask that if they’re clever enough to know I have a problem then why are they not clever enough to know this information …. the phone goes dead at their end pretty quickly

Alasdair Cook says:
18 September 2017

Will try that as i have an Apple Mac without windows!!


I usually ask them is it my laptop or desktop that they have found a problem with, when they answer I ask them are they an MCP, whatever the answer I tell them its nice to talk to another professional engineer as I am an Microsoft Certified Professional

Dan B says:
21 June 2017

While it is all well and good saying more needs to be done, there is already a lot being done. The National Trading Standards Board set up a National Scams Team which is doing a lot of brilliant work along with the majority of the local Trading Standards services and companies such as Royal Mail.

The problem is Austerity and the massive list of responsibilities Trading Standards already deal with. Officers are required to do so much more with less time and resources to do it. The officers are dedicated and do what they can, but the people who suffer are the elderly and the vulnerable.

Preventative work is undertaken but this only scratches the surface.

Valerie Mason says:
21 June 2017

I was a victim of a man pretending to be an officer in the US army based in Afghanistan. I found out about other ladies he was scamming too. He kept insisting he was real but would not send me a selfie photo or come and meet me face to face. I still have the photo of his profile picture and the name he goes under on FB.

Carol Beaumont says:
21 June 2017

I have experienced many ”hoax” calls regarding my computer and also one from ”BT” which I hastily reported to BT myself. I had a message from a friend on Facebook asking if I could help with a PayPal payment as her account had been hacked and she needed to pay something quickly. I do not have a PayPal account but I informed her that someone was using her name to gain access to my details with a view to extracting money from me. Apparently this scammer contacted other people of my friends. Trouble is, who do you report this to? I have no idea, and until there is a sure and safe way of reporting these incidents, it will continue.

Sandi Elton says:
17 July 2017

These are the people I use