Older people in Suffolk scammed out of £27k online, report finds

Older people in Suffolk were conned out of £27k in one year as cybercrime continues to rise Picture

Older people in Suffolk were conned out of £27k in one year as cybercrime continues to rise Picture: TIM GOODE/PA - Credit: PA

Older people in Suffolk were conned out of over £27,000 through cyber crime, an Age UK report has found.

According to a Freedom of Information request to Action Fraud, Suffolk Constabulary received 66 reports of cyber crime involving people aged 55 and over between April 2018 and March 2019.

In total, people in that age bracket were conned out of £27,980 – although experts fear the real number could be far higher, with just 3% of online crime estimated to be reported. Older people made up 24% of all such victims in the county.

Neighbouring Essex ranked as having the 8th highest figure in the country, with older people losing £126,590 in the same period.

But bosses at Age UK fear the numbers for 2020 could be significantly higher after the country saw an influx of Covid-19 and lockdown-orientated fraud – with 701 older people in England and Wales reportedly scammed out of a combined more than £2.4million during lockdown.

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Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “During lockdown the majority of us relied on the internet to stay connected and we know that some older people were also encouraged to go online for the first time.

“That’s hopefully something they have enjoyed and benefited from and will want to continue now lockdown is being eased.

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“However, unfortunately we also know that cyber criminals were very active in exploiting the situation, seeking to con older people out of their hard-earned cash.”

Ms Abrahams has still however called for older people who have not yet used the internet to do so – although added they should not do so without the support of family or local organisations.

She said: “Online crime is often highly sophisticated and tough to spot so anyone can be taken in, but if you are new to the internet and learned to use it in a rush, with little support, you are potentially more vulnerable to being caught out.

“No one should feel ashamed to ask for help from family and friends and for all of us, whether we are experienced computer users or not, sticking to the simple online safety rules remains tremendously important.

“These include being on the alert at all times for the risk of a scam, not opening attachments in emails that come from an unknown source and remembering that if we are offered an online deal that looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.”

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