Older people in the UK lost over £4m last year, according to new cybercrime data acquired by the charity Age UK.
A Freedom of Information request to Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, found that police received 4,173 reports of cybercrime, in England and Wales between April 2018 and March 2019, from people aged 55 and over.
Cybercrime, or computer orientated crime, can take many forms but some of the most common examples are phishing, investment fraud, identity theft, fraudulent adverts, and blackmail. This could be a handbag that never materialises, a cryptocurrency investment or an online auction site scam.
Older people who became victims of these crimes in the UK reported a total loss of £4,025,813 during that period. They made up 19% of the overall number of cybercrime victims. However, as it is estimated that only 3% of cybercrime is reported to authorities, the actual figures are likely to be much higher.
Unfortunately, the problem has only got worse during lockdown. Age UK statistics acquired from Action Fraud also revealed older people in England and Wales were scammed out of over £2.4m during lockdown because of COVID-19 related fraud.
There were 3,162 COVID-19 related fraud and cybercrime reports made to Action Fraud between March 23rd 2020 and July 31st 2020. 701 of those reports had a victim aged 55 and over, which accumulated to £2.4 million in reported losses.
To help raise awareness of the problem, Age UK has created an interactive map outlining how many cybercrimes against older people were reported in each regional police force and the amount of money lost. The map reveals the worst affected region outside of London was Dorset, where cyber criminals stole £277,902 from older people.
More and more older people have been going online to work, shop and keep in touch with friends and family. During lockdown many have felt forced to go online to stay connected but often without the proper support and guidance that they may want and need. Those that were isolated or needed help getting essential shopping may be doing so for the first time which could put them at extr