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Millions Lost to Computer Software Service Fraud

Ross Kelly

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Government Data Snooping

Thousands of consumers, many of whom are vulnerable or elderly, are being targeted by fraudsters.

Action Fraud has launched a campaign to inform consumers about one of the most common types of fraud – computer software service fraud.

Figures show that this type of fraud is one of the country’s most reported top five frauds. In 2017/18, more than 22,000 victims reported losing a staggering sum of £21 million to computer software fraud.

Computer Software Fraudsters

Computer software service fraud can start with something as simple as a phone call, an email or pop-up message appearing on someone’s computer. Usually, these state there is something wrong with your device or internet connection and that action needs to be taken to resolve the issue.

However, with these messages comes a demand for payment to fix the problem, or they will install software on the computer that will allow the criminals to access personal and financial information.

Action Fraud has received thousands of reports of this style of fraud, with millions being lost to the attackers. An intelligence report compiled by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau suggests that the average age of a victim is 63.

Lara Xenoudakis, temporary detective chief inspector at the City of London Police, said fraudsters prey on vulnerable people and take advantage of others’ lack of security awareness.

“These fraudsters prey on vulnerable victims,” she said. “Doing everything they can to convince them there is something wrong with their computer.

“They use this as a way to gain immediate and in some cases multiple payments from the victim.”

DCI Xenoudakis added: “We are asking people to do everything they can to protect themselves from this type of fraud and stop fraudsters from thinking that this is an easy way to make money from unsuspecting victims.”

Police statistics also show that men and women are equally susceptible to being targeted by fraudsters and that people living in London are among the most likely to fall victim.

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Raising Awareness

Action Fraud and the City of London Police are issuing protection advice on their social media channels to help people avoid falling victim to this type of fraud, and is also encouraging businesses to warn their customers. Ensuring people are adequately informed about the dangers of fraud and educating people is key to stopping future incidents.

Computer firms never make unsolicited phone calls to help fix computers, so consumers should remain vigilant and report any nuisance calls. Action Fraud advises people to “treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and don’t give out any personal information.”

It also adds: “Computer firms do not request credit card information to validate copies of software. Nor do they ask for any personally identifying information, including credit card details.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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