Young Academic News Flash: Students warned of online fraud in run up to Christmas

Young Academic have discovered that students are at serious risk of online fraud this festive period. In worrying student news, an independent survey has revealed that a large proportion of the UK’s students have been stung when buying online.

The survey also unearthed some startling statistics, such as:

17% have been ripped off online

Survey finds 30% will lie when selling a product or service

18% of Brits don’t feel safe using on online auction sites

Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau report spiralling e-scams

Research from identity checking experts has revealed that 17% have been ‘ripped off’ online and 18% don’t feel safe using online classified advertising sites. The highest proportion in the poll that had been ripped off were aged 18-24, of which, one in five were victims.

The nationally representative poll of 1,500 people found that older people were less likely to be defrauded online, though nervousness of online trading affected all age groups.  The 55-64 age group had been ripped off less online than younger age groups

(12% compared to 20%) yet 16% of the over 55s rarely or never felt safe trading online, just four percent less than the most effected age group,(the 18-24s).

The study reflects national trends. According to a national fraud reporting centre, a third of crimes reported to them in July concerned online shopping and auction fraud, and the overall volume of calls about fraud also increased.

A City of London Police spokesperson stated; “I can confirm that since January the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has each month received more than twice as many reports of online shopping and auction fraud from Action Fraud than any other type of fraud.”

Putting this spiralling fraud into context, the survey found that a shocking 30% lie to somebody they’re selling a product or service to. Yet, 33% of the survey also said they are ‘most likely’ to trust someone they meet for the first time.

Also commenting on the findings, Robin Kramer, Psychologist at the University of Bangor said; “Our default position is to trust someone rather than not. When considering deceiving others, we come across more situations as we get older in which we judge the benefits to ourselves to outweigh the costs to others. Under these circumstances, the temptation to lie can significantly increase.”

This perfect storm is illustrated by the case of Ken Hercock 45, an Elvis fanatic from Scunthorpe. He commented; “I’ve been an Elvis fan since I was five. I was looking for rare fan footage of Elvis in concert in the 1970’s. I put in a Google search for it, and up came a website selling footage of my idol,” said Mr Hercock.

“I paid for the footage with PayPal and waited. When it had not arrived after three weeks I knew something was wrong.”

Mr Hercock found that the e-trader had ripped of a number of Elvis fans with a similar non-delivery scam. An online campaign was set up amongst the Elvis fans, but the fraudulent trader was never found.

“It wasn’t the money, it was the principle. That an Elvis fan should rip off a fellow fan was really hurtful. I just wanted to ask how many others he had taken for a ride.”

This research found that when victims can’t find a postal address of their defrauder, legal proceedings are hampered because a summons can’t be served: “You do need to have address for a defendant, Her Majesty’s Court Service cannot find one for you,” confirmed a HMCS spokeswoman.

Further stats:

52% said they would background check a website if it doesn’t have an address or phone number

Thirty percent said they are likely to carry out back ground checks on someone the met online

Trading with an individual? Use a free directory enquiries service to verify someone’s address

For added ID verification, access the 24 million records on the current edited electoral roll, and find out how long an individual has lived at a particular address, and who with.  This will give you a fuller picture of the person you’re transacting with, while supplying accurate contact details should you need to deliver legal correspondence to them.

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