THOUSANDS of Warwickshire residents looking for love are among those who have fallen victim to online scams.
The third cybercrime survey – run by Warwickshire County Council and partners including police – is looking to gauge the impact online crime is having across the county. It asks people to share their experiences of online crime.
The last survey in 2016/17 found some 15,000 residents had fallen victim to phishing scams, more than 5,500 to an online romance scam, nearly 10,000 were victims of identity fraud, and 30,000 fell victim to viruses and malware.
Other online fraud and theft crimes accounted for a further 21,500 victims.
Efforts have been taken to combat online crime in the county, which has included the development of the Cyber Safe Warwickshire website and social media, which aims to keep residents up to date with the latest protection advice.
And the county also has cyber crime advisors who offer tips to residents to help them avoid becoming a victim.
Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “The evidence shows county residents and businesses are more likely to fall victim to cyber crime and online fraud than almost any other type of offence, with criminals becoming ever more sophisticated in their approach.
“It’s really important that the police and other agencies continue to have an up-to-date picture of the volume and nature of cyber crime in the county, so they can continue to evolve their approach to targeting those responsible.
“We know criminals are always seeking to find new ways to take advantage of victims online, so it’s really important our cyber crime advisors can tailor their work to ensure they raise public awareness of the newly-emerging types of cyber crime being experienced in the county, to help people avoid becoming a victim in the first place.”
Warwickshire community safety spokesman Coun Andy Crump added: “Cybercrime is a growing community safety issue as victims can be seriously affected, not just financially but also emotionally, with feelings of depression, and sometimes worse, as a result. The economic impact on local businesses of cybercrime is also something that cannot be underestimated. Warwickshire County Council will be watching closely the results of this latest survey to see how the picture has changed over the past two years.”
Visit ask.warwickshire.gov.uk to take part in the cybercrime survey, and www.cybersafewarwickshire.com for help and advice on staying safe online.