The past two years have seen cases of fraud in Scotland increase by two-thirds, new figures have revealed.
Cases rose from 797 in September 2019 to 1,328 in September this year, a 67% growth.
In addition, while cases dipped 3% (or 39 crimes) between September 2021 and September 2020, fraud increased by 26% between 2019-20 and 2020-21.
This, in part, was driven by the pandemic causing behavioural changes, such as more online shopping. However, the Recorded Crime National Statistics have highlighted an increasing trend in recorded fraud over a number of years (up 73% between 2014-15 and 2019-20).
Furthermore, research published within the recent Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin estimated that 57% of fraud crimes recorded in 2020-21 were cybercrimes, compared to 29% in 2019-20.
Some care is advised before attributing all of the recent changes to the specific circumstances to the COVID-related lockdown.
This is because a procedural change was made in April 2020 to how some crimes of fraud (and other types of crime which could involve a victim and a perpetrator in different physical locations) are recorded. This has had an impact when comparing figures for fraud which fall before and after the April 2020 change.
The figures were revealed in time for International Fraud Awareness Week, which encourages consumers and businesses to learn what fraud is, why it is important to stop it, red flags to look for and ways to prevent it.
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Head of operations with Advice Direct Scotland Marjorie Gibson said: “Scammers exploited the Covid pandemic by preying on people and businesses, and that worrying trend has continued.
“With International Fraud Awareness Week underway, this is an opportune moment to urge everyone to be vigilant as scammers can sound very plausible and persuasive, and it can be easy to be taken in.
“Cybercrime is a growing concern, and it’s always important to check emails or online communications very carefully and always be wary of anyone asking for personal financial information.
“Our team is on hand to offer free, impartial and practical advice on what to look out for or what to do if you think you have been scammed, and any suspected criminal activity should be reported to Police Scotland.”
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