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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?

Comments
Mark Baker says:
24 June 2017

Okay.Try these out.
For PPI take over the conversation.Ask them if they would like a new car or a nice holiday.
Ask about their credit rating and would they like to borrow 25k from the bank and they give me 20%.After that we never see each other again as the bank chases me for their money as they lend money at risk and we use my address to borrow the money.
They hang up.

Accident claims?
Tell em you were p****d but it was not your fault as the other driver should not have been out late at night.
They stop calling.

Teresa Baker says:
26 June 2017

Got home from holiday, voice message left supposed to be from HMRC. Letting us know issue with our tax. Need to call a number urgently before there is legal action. This is the fifth call received in many weeks. I rang HMRC, told me it was a scam. Reported to Fraud line. Not long received email from them there is no case to answer. I believe calls threatening legal criteria is a great worry. Glad we received this call before going away, it would have been a shock call to be left as a message. Reporting details to HMRC & Fraud line not stopped these calls.

Mandy whetzel says:
26 June 2017

Had one of those calls asking if i had had an accident when i said i hadnt got told to go out and have one, told him to eff off and put the phone down. The person rang me back and told me he knew my address and was going to come and do allsorts of sexually perverse things to me so i told him if his male parts were anything below 14 inches he need not bother because anything less just wouldnt do, he ended up putting the phone down on me 😂

Serenda says:
27 June 2017

I get frequent calls about a “car accident”. If I have the time, I say “oh yes indeed, which accident are you referring to?” and then string them along as I try to recall all those accidents I’ve had. They quickly ring off. For the callers supposedly from Microsoft, I respond positively, ask them to wait while I turn on my pc and then simply walk away from the phone. They too quickly hang up, but their line should show as busy until I choose to hang up from my end – and I’ve been know to leave that for an hour or more. The fake BT callers get similar treatment, although for some reason they seem to have given up calling! The worst ones in my opinion are those suggesting you press 9or some number in order not to be bothered again: I’ve tried that, but it doesn’t stop the calls

Martin Vlietstra says:
19 December 2017

On one occasion I told them all about a [fake] accident in which I was involved. I kept going as long as possible, giving them an address of de Waal Drive, (can’t remember the exact suburb, but it was outside the university). Eventually I told them that de Waal Drive goes past the University of Cape Town. It was fun.

keith says:
28 June 2017

I managed to keep them talking whilst looking up their phone location and their names. I sent location and details to the police and GUESS WHAT >>>>>NOTHING NOT EVEN A RESPONCE. DO YOU THINK THEY CARE????

Pat says:
28 June 2017

It would be good if Which could hold local councils in Essex to account re their behaviours. Nobody else does. Local press in Essex certainly doesn’t. We all suffer as a result.

John Willerton says:
4 July 2017

The three most important actions with all cold callers is to register with the Telephone Preference Service, get enough information to complain about them and not engage in any sort of conversation with them. Also follow up with a complaint. Even asking for the name of the company they represent, a valid telephone number and a uk address causes most of them to hang up. Also don’t forget they know a lot more about you than you do about them so it is extremely unwise to ‘play games’ with them
The TPS should take information about scams and pass it on. At the moment they don’t, even if the scam involves them!

jacqueline wilson says:
7 July 2017

I was phoned on 6/7/17 by a female recorded voice telling me it was H.M.S. customs and that there was a lawsuit aganst me with a court appearance the following week. I hung up but an elderly friend phoned later in a distressed state to say he had received the same call and had given them his insurance number

Howard Morgan says:
18 September 2017

I’m a Powys resident and have used the Telephone Preference Service since it started – it is useless.
I use a BT call blocker phone and find this very effective – earlier this year I switched it off for a few days, because my son went missing and the police were in regular touch as the search developed. Because the police use mobile phones I couldn’t add them to the allowed list. On the first day I had a silent call, same on the second, and third days several rubbish calls about PPI, repeated on the fourth day.

I warned the police they would have to get through the challenge, and switched the blocker back on. I had had a similar experience when my wife was in hospital a couple of years back. It is obvious thet these scammers have a search program that looks for unprotected numbers. Why are so many of these calls made by people with Indian sub-continent accents?

Now, I rely on the call blocker to block all international and number witheld calls and get no more trouble. I have recently however been getting emails demanding to know why I have not claimed PPI yet, but my spam filter seems to get all of these.

If you do not have a spam filter for emails, or a call blocker, there are some fascinating methods to protect yourself in this debate.

I remember answering the door to 2 Irish accented gentlemen who had some tarmac left over from a job and offered to resurface my drive. Just who has tarmac “left over” at 7.30am ? All of these scams can be best dealt with by putting the phone down, with the option of being rude if you are moved that way, otherwise you can play the Jehovas’ Witness response ” Have you heard the good news? Jesus died to save you….”

Richard says:
18 September 2017

Nothing about ransom demands, this happened to me.

Robin Watts says:
18 September 2017

Government, stop unwanted telephone calls cold calling with scams from the sub-continent, get a grip on it now !! No I do not have Nutter Broadband and I certainly wont let you on my computer

Councils stop cold callers touring the housing estates, I’ve had some as late as 8.30pm banging on my door, they never ring the bell! and in some cases I’ve never understood what they were flogging

Barry Allen says:
18 September 2017

Every Monday morning its “Asian Microsoft Maid” time in our house and this week gave them TPS number telling them Bob had real security problems with his computer and needed their help urgently. Wonder if action will follow if suggest MP/BT chiefs/police/Newspapers – worth a try perhaps

DANIEL says:
18 September 2017

Fake £20 notes are being passed by an African crew in the Manchester area.
The method used is to buy a small cost item and profer a £20 note for the transaction. Beware shopkeepers.

bishbut says:
19 September 2017

Question Which organisations government departments still use Withheld numbers I know many still do Have the police given up using them I know the once did I do not answer withheld numbers but how do I call back if I wanted to because I missed a call They do not want nuisance calls BUT??

You know Bishbut you ask some strategic questions that get right to the point . It has been decided by the government that in the interests of “security ” of this country that you are given a general number to call that that does not localise the call you make so that you might know personally where a police station , a government dept , or even a big business is but you are provided with an arbitrary number that calls a central call reception area who then using computers relay it on . As you know there are now many ways to redirect and disguise or change the perceived location of a business or an authority and this is used extensively in the general market place . That is why they will not force the telephone companies to make all calls reconisable as to location/area etc but it is used also in the interests of globalisation so that you think -British company when its probably American in location . While this affects the general public as you know it means little to hackers / and DDoS attackers who have no problem locating where to call direct . There are also internal numbers that companies/police/military can use to call direct but you never get them . Recently my local Morrison’s went “global ” in that the local number was made NU ( taken out of service ) and you had a general number that called a central location who then called the local store. I have two self-proven incidents of one bus company and one lawyers office using -out of area /withheld / “International ” numbers BOTH were located in the UK and ended up being forced to admit it to me.

Christopher Nash says:
19 September 2017

Has Which looked into car parking scams?

Les Trotter says:
19 December 2017

I always sound interested and let them rabbit on for a few mins with their pitch .Then suddenly interrupt them and say “Thank you we have now had time to trace your call ” The phone soon goes dead and they don`t ring back !

KIERAN WALSH says:
19 December 2017

We were scammed in a cash machine fraud in Epping Essex.Tesco,They jammed our card and £150, removed after we left.and took another £150,before the bank stopped the card,while they were drawing another £150.Barclays were great, but with no one around,how did they get our pin number so quick,Police told us we were number 24 scammed that morning.

Kieran -thank you for asking this question as it puts paid to all those who think we should not post technical information in Which and stick to flower arranging . The scammers set up a dummy window above the viewing area which has electronics AND a HIGH resolution camera. It is aimed at the keypad and keystrokes to show your pin number , its fancy electronics and while this country blocks the information and detailed blowups of all the electronics the USA is more open and I have seen how they do it . Obviously I wont be posting the URL for the website nor giving out more info in a detailed manner . How too stop it ? COVER the keypad as you input your PIN . For those at their bank go inside and use the small modern one on the premises.

Rob Mack says:
19 December 2017

I try to keep “Windows Technical Support” on the phone as long as possible… It stops them calling other people and perhaps saves somebody falling for their scam.

Can i point out to Which magazine that Humberside is not a place nor a County , which does lead me to think that this survey is flawed and a bit amateurish. I mean if you cannot even get the areas of our own country right how are we supposed to believe this?

Sorry Nick, but the map refers to police force areas and Humberside Police is one of these. The name probably refers to when we had counties of North Humberside and South Humberside.

As a unit of local government “Humberside” was never liked and eventually abolished, but the name lives on in the Humberside police force and the Humberside fire service. The BBC News website has a Humberside division under Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, and there is BBC Radio Humberside. So “Humberside” still has a regional geographic identity and is a legitimate description for an area for the purposes of Which? Magazine. At least we know where to find it.

My grandfather, a very proud Yorkshireman, denizen of the East Riding, and citizen of Kingston-upon-Hull, would have been horrified by the name Humberside which sought to erase the Yorkshire identity of that part of the country and was comprehensively condemned by most local people. The eponymous county council was expunged from the lists after a brief but ignominious existence, and ERYC [East Riding of Yorkshire Council – well known to readers of Rotten Boroughs in Private Eye] and Kingston-upon-Hull city council now command a large part of the area to the north of the River Humber.

I was just trying to defend Which? but having said that, I wonder how useful these figures for regional fraud are. I wonder if there are any figures that might show that statistics are overused.

I notice, from an item on the BBC News website today, that the area around the Humber estuary has one of the highest scores for internet searches in matters of Christmas interest. See –
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42356135

Those in the media must love statistics, which allow reporters to produce stories when there is nothing of great significance to report.