15th June 2021

Scams hit 36 million Brits in 2021

New data from Citizens Advice shows the widespread reach and serious harm caused by scammers to people across the UK.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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From fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes to dodgy texts, opportunistic scammers continue to prey on even the savviest of consumers
Trading standards professionals across the country are working around the clock to help protect the public from malicious fraudsters

With Scams Awareness Fortnight (June 14-June 27) under way, Citizens Advice has revealed that more than 36 million people in the UK have been targeted by scams so far this year.

The data shows that although the over-55s are the most-targeted age group, those aged 34 and under are almost five times more likely to fall victim to scams.  Younger people were most likely to be targeted by text or messaging service (61%), while those over 55 were most likely to be targeted over the phone (73%).

The data also shows that reports of scams are increasing sharply, and have more than doubled compared with the first five months of 2020.

The most common types of scam (54%) have related to bogus delivery or parcel notifications, while in 41% of cases fraudsters claimed to be government representatives. Fake investment or get-rich-quick scams accounted for 12% of the total.

Scams via unsolicited emails are up seven-fold (667%), and scams via telephone calls have increased 60%.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “From fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes to dodgy texts, opportunistic scammers continue to prey on even the savviest of consumers. Our research shows that when it comes to scams anyone can be targeted, and anyone can be tricked.”

Recent examples of scams demonstrate how they affect the lives of UK citizens of all ages; in one, an elderly man was duped into sending £240,000 to an account he thought belonged to his bank, while in another a young woman lost £2,000 to a fake cryptocurrency company.

CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought levels of anguish to the public that we haven’t seen for many years. While there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, fraudsters have not relented.

“Beyond the profoundly destructive and life-destroying impact scams have, the climate of fear is apparent, with 68% of people reporting that they are worried for either themselves, their family, or friends falling victim to scams, a level of concern shared across all age groups.

“Trading standards professionals across the country are working around the clock to help protect the public from malicious fraudsters, and their work throughout the pandemic has been exceptional. Their work, however, is enhanced by an informed and empowered public.

“Scams Awareness and initiatives like Friends Against Scams are vital annual campaigns that do so much to raise public awareness and improve the protective bonds between the public, consumer protection authorities, and business. We are strongest when we are united.”

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said: “This disturbing rise in scams shows that financial abuse is now a part of everyday life in the UK. They are becoming more mainstream and more sophisticated, backed by a rising influence of organised crime networks in scams and fraud that are seeking to exploit the pandemic.

“These rising cases of scams and fraud are deliberately designed to deceive victims and can cause emotional distress, social isolation, a loss of confidence, financial loss and in some cases physical effects caused by the loss, shame and stress. Just being targeted by scams has been shown to damage people’s wellbeing. We urge people to protect themselves and their loved ones from scams by completing our free Friends Against Scams awareness training at www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk.”

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