By Rebecca Thomas
What is cyber crime?
According to ‘actionfraud.police.uk’, Cyber crime is any criminal act dealing with computers and networks (called hacking). Additionally, cyber crime also includes traditional crimes conducted through the internet.
Cyber crime can include many different offences, for example it could be accessing illegal websites or pretending to be someone you are not in order to gain something off another person, i.e money or possessions. Cyber crime also extends to if someone was a Twitter troll or cyber bully or if they revealed someone’s identity online, for example who had been given a new identity by the courts.
Fraud is a huge issue associated with cyber crime, and many of these criminals are praying on vulnerable people who are then too embarrassed to report it. According to the Annual Fraud Indicator 2016, the cost of fraud in the UK is £193bn a year. Furthermore, research conducted on victims of cyber-crime between November 2014 and October 2015 revealed that men on average lost almost three times as much money to cyber criminals than women. The average loss for men was £2,354 compared to £809 for women. There were 3.8 million frauds and 2 million cyber crimes last year – based on survey reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
According to Merseyside police many victims of cyber crime are embarrassed or too ashamed to come forward. A huge issue with cyber crime and fraud specifically now is online dating and meeting friends over Facebook, some people are tricked into handing over huge amounts of money to people they have never met thinking they’re friends or in a relationship with them.
Bitcoin is a new currency which was created in 2009 by a person under the alias of Satoshi Nakamoto. The transactions are made online with no printed money used, and has no middle man, i.e. no banks. Bitcoin can be used for a number of things, including buying Xbox games and book hotels on Expedia. Many people have even gone as far as to sell their houses for bitcoin, exchanging no real cash, this is because they believe they can get rich quick with bitcoin. The price of bitcoin skyrocketed into the thousands in 2017.
However, Bitcoin has a dark side which has become more apparent as the web has improved. Bitcoin is nearly untraceable as a currency because it is not processed through any banks so therefore could be seen as an easy exchange for criminals. The dark web is known for having many illegal things on sale including guns, child pornography, drugs and even hire a hitman. Bitcoin can be abused by criminals on the dark web when they use it to buy illegal items which often isn’t traced.
How can you keep safe?
- Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials.
- Many frauds start with an email. Remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you an email asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Always question whether an email could be bogus.
- Destroy and preferably shred receipts with your card details on, and any post with your name and address on. Identity fraudsters don’t need much information in order to be able to clone your identity.
- If you have been a victim of fraud, be aware of recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters pretend to be a lawyer or a law enforcement officer and tell you they can help you recover the money you’ve already lost.
Have you been a victim of cyber crime? Contact us on our Twitter @LJMUMerseydays