Last year, the UK government blocked 2.7 million online scams with the help of its Active Cyber Defence (ACD) initiative, led by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre. This statistic represents a four-fold increase in scams removed, due to more types of fraud being included within ACD’s remit.
For example, the ACD now targets scams based on extortion or fake celebrity endorsements. The recent pandemic has also given rise to other worrying trends, such as people flogging fake coronavirus vaccines and passports, or trying to phish information disguised as the NHS. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we can expect to see more issues relating to cyber-security and ransomware.
There have been some positive changes. The ACD and telecommunication companies are working together to make it harder for scammers to contact people on seemingly genuine phone numbers.
In addition, online crime forums and darknet marketplaces are facing increasing action. At the same time, recent banking sanctions may help to reduce the activity of Russian-based cyber criminals who need to access the proceeds of their scams.
There are various ways you can stay clear of online con artists. For instance, email-based scams often give themselves away with poor spelling or grammar, suspicious links, and demands for instant action or payment. Likewise, no one wins anything without buying a ticket first – and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Never share your personal information online, and if you suspect you’ve been duped, inform your bank and the Action Fraud hotline immediately. Beyond this, advice websites such as MoneySavingExpert share plenty of tips to ensure you don’t become a victim of cybercrime.