Scams costing UK citizens almost £10bn a year


More than two scams a day ranging from fake online dating to copycat disability badge websites are being reported to some councils, figures show.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said fraud, including scams, is now the most common type of crime, accounting for 3.6 million cases in England and Wales last year.

It is urging people to report all scams, which cost UK citizens almost £10 billion a year.

However, it is feared that as little as 5% of scams are reported, often because victims are embarrassed or simply unaware that they have been deceived.

Trading Standards officers at one council alone, West Sussex, have received more than 800 reports of scams and attempted scams since July 2016, equating to more than two a day and costing victims £383,000.

National Trading Standards prosecuted a man from Essex and his company who misled 102 disabled people into paying £49 a time for Blue Badge parking permits, normally bought from local councils for £10, using copycat websites.

Other cases include a woman contacting Warwickshire County Council to report losing more than £30,000 to someone who contacted her via a dating website and a man who is thought to have sent more than £50,000 to fraudsters after being tricked into 'investing' in pink diamonds.

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "Councils are receiving reports of scams every day from victims whose confidence and trust in people has been shattered, leaving them anxious and scared of being targeted and harassed again.

"Fraud not only leaves victims out of pocket, it also creates significant costs for taxpayers as elderly victims in particular often require more care and support after being scammed.

"It's important that victims don't suffer in silence or feel embarrassed. By reporting a scam, people can help someone else avoid being a victim and help councils track down the fraudsters, bring them to justice and recover their money."

People should report scams, rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or Action Fraud.