Cost of welfare impact calculated at £ 9bn per year

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A young woman worried about something on her phone

The cost to the welfare of scammed victims can be calculated at a monetary total of £ 9.3 billion per year, according to consumer group Which ?.

That’s the equivalent of £ 2,509 per year for each victim, but the impact may be higher for someone who is a victim of online fraud.

People targeted by fraudsters have reported suffering from anxiety and health problems after being scammed.

Who? claims the cost of welfare is higher than the typical financial blow of £ 600.

The Consumers Association has appointed consultants to review the data, including 17,000 responses to the Office for National Statistics crime survey for England and Wales.

The results were then applied to a social impact assessment approach approved by the Treasury earlier this year. The model allows researchers to assess changes in well-being in monetary terms.

Research has suggested that victims of scams face decreased life satisfaction, significantly higher levels of anxiety, and lower levels of happiness. It was also associated with people reporting poorer overall health, albeit to a much lower degree.

“I was so upset, scared and anxious”

Jennifer Runham broke down in tears at her local bank branch, on her way to school, after learning she had been scammed.

A cycle of events began when she received an email claiming she needed to renew her television license. She entered her details on what turned out to be a bogus website, before receiving a call from criminals claiming to be from her bank’s fraud department. They even spoofed his bank’s phone number.

She transferred £ 1,500 before realizing she had been cheated.

“The impact was huge. I was so upset, scared and anxious,” said Ms Runham, who is in her 40s.

“My high anxiety level meant I had a lot of help from victim support. “

It took a year of battle before his bank refunded the money.

“It takes a lot of courage to go through the complaint process. I felt they were blaming me,” she said.

“I went to the ombudsman. When I got my money back, I felt I had some freedom to move on with my life.”

Rocio Concha, which one? director of policy and advocacy, said: “This highlights the extent of the emotional and psychological damage that victims suffer when they are defrauded.

“The government must not ignore the enormous impact that an epidemic of fraud has on our society.”

On Monday, she presented the conclusions to the deputies of the joint committee of the bill on online security.

The bill includes measures to tackle user-generated fraud such as dating scams, but omits fraudulent advertisements leading to other types of fraud such as investment scams.

The consumer group, alongside activists such as Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert, are calling for more comprehensive and urgent action on online scams.

He calls on the government to include fraudulent ads in the Online Safety Bill as a first step towards new laws and regulations imposing greater responsibility for policing content on online platforms.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the scam provisions of the Online Security Bill would help fight “the ruthless criminals who defraud millions of people.”


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