The UK experienced a significant threat of fraud and cyber-crime in 2021, with nearly 500,000 incidents taking place resulting in a financial loss of £2.5 billion.

This is according to chargeback firm Payback Ltd, which yesterday published its analysis of data drawn from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), revealing a total of 487,035 reported incidents over the past 12 months. 

The worst period during the year was January to April, with each month posting 41,347, 47,701, 48,648 and 41,404 respectively, with total losses for each month amounting to £138.7 million, £267.6 million, £219.3 million and £161.8 million.

“It is difficult to see such high figures relating to fraudulent and criminal activity taking place over the course of the year,” Payback Ltd explained.

“It is imperative that the British public exercise caution when making financial transactions of any kind, and to ensure that they are confident that any transactions are done via official, safe and legal means.”

Of the half a million reports, 62,976 were made by British businesses throughout the year, with a total reported financial loss of £736.6 million, whilst from a consumer perspective those aged between 20 and 29 reported the most instances of criminal activity at 82,200. 

This age group was followed by those between 30 and 39, who reported 80,999 cases. Meanwhile, fraud and cyb-ercrime cases accounted for 87% of the total report volume, with a financial loss incurred of £1.8 billion across 421,473 cases. 

The top five crime codes reported in 2021 included fraudulent activity using online shopping and auctions, of which there were over 100,168 reported incidents at a loss of £77.1 million. 

A notable case of betting industry-related fraud earlier this year saw Ladbrokes and Coral shops across the UK defrauded of more than £600,000 by a gang of four men, two of whom were since imprisoned whilst the remaining members received suspended sentences. 

Additionally, the UK national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre Action Fraud revealed in November that almost £1 million had been stolen by lottery fraudsters over the previous seven months. 

Between April and October of this year, the authority received 629 complaints of lottery fraud, with 89% of those complaints mentioning well-known prize draws; almost half of the complaints were reports of fraudsters impersonating the Postcode lottery.

In Payback Ltd’s more recent report, the overall umbrella of “consumer fraud” includes other criminal activity such as dating scams and bogus tradesmen, accounting for £437.2 million of the country’s losses this year.