Investment scammers target Surrey but Norfolk hotspot for dating and lotto fraud
Norfolk is a hotspot for reported dating fraud, while in Surrey investment scams are a particular concern and Mid Wales has relatively high levels of reported computer repair fraud, according to analysis from Which?
The consumer group made the findings following a Freedom of Information Act request for thousands of reports made to Action Fraud over a three-year period during 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Its analysis, which covered England and Wales, identified Norfolk as a hotspot for dating fraud, with 1.6 reports per 10,000 people in the county, compared with the general average of 1.1. Often in such cases, people are scammed into sending money to someone they think they are in a relationship with.
Norfolk was also a hotspot for reported lottery scams - where victims are duped into paying to enter a non-existent prize draw, with 2.2 reports per 10,000 people compared with 1.0 nationally.
Surrey saw more incidents of financial investment fraud, with 2.1 reports per 10,000 people, compared with an average of 1.3, Which? found.
People in the Dyfed-Powys area of Mid Wales were most likely to report losing money to computer repair fraud - with cold callers offering to fix a non-existent computer glitch, with 19.3 reports per 10,000 people, compared with the general average of 10.4.
This type of fraud was more commonly reported in areas with an older population, Which? said.
Dyfed-Powys was also a hotspot for reported fake services fraud, the organisation found, involving people who had been conned into paying an upfront fee for services that did not exist, such as falsely offering to make a PPI claim. There were 13.4 reports per 10,000 people, compared with the national average of 9.5.
Residents in Northamptonshire were most likely to report being hit by online shopping and auction scams, reporting that a product sold online did not exist, arrive or match its description. There were 21.6 reported frauds per 10,000 people, compared with 16.9 nationally.
Which? said London is a hotspot for various reported scams, including being charged fees for fake loans, social media or email hacking, scam door-to-door sales, fraud involving false or stolen goods and ticket fraud.
The capital also saw frequent reports of regular payment fraud, which sees people duped into changing a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer, by pretending to be an organisation the victim regularly pays, such as an energy or phone company.
Warwickshire experiences a lot of retail fraud, with 15.7 reports per 10,000 people, compared with an average of 3.4, the analysis found. Retail fraud happens when goods are ordered with no intention of paying, or when a fraudster tries to get a refund from stolen goods.
Dorset was found to be another target for technology fraud, with 3.8 reports of computer virus, malware and spyware fraud per 10,000 people compared with the general average of 2.3.
Gareth Shaw, a money expert at Which?, said: "As more information is available about us online than ever before, fraudsters are finding it much easier to know who to target and how.
"These criminals are constantly finding new ways to rip us off and those tackling fraud should be upping their game. The Government needs to set out an ambitious agenda to tackle fraud, while law enforcement agencies need to be working harder to identify and protect the people most at risk from fraud."
People who have been the victim of a bank transfer scam can use a Which? tool to share their experience at www.which.co.uk/bank-transfers.
Which? has been calling for banks to give stronger protections to customers who are tricked into transferring money from their bank account to fraudsters.