The cost to scam victims’ well-being can be calculated at a monetary total of £9.3bn a year, according to the consumer group Which?.
That is the equivalent of £2,509 a year for each victim, but the impact can be higher for someone hit by online fraud.
Fraudsters are known to cause anxiety and other health problems in victims.
Which? says the cost to well-being is higher than the typical financial hit of £600.
Consulting was hired by the consumers association in order to examine data. This included 17,000 responses to Office for National Statistics’ Crime Survey for England or Wales.
These results were used to develop an assessment of social impact that was approved earlier in the year by Treasury. Researchers can use the model to evaluate changes in well being in monetary terms.
According to the research, scam victims suffered a decline in life satisfaction, higher levels of anxiety and lower levels happiness. The scam was also linked to people reporting worse overall health but in a smaller amount.
Jennifer Runham broke down in tears at her bank on the way to school after she was told that she had been a victim of fraud.
When she was emailed, she discovered that her TV license had expired. After entering her information on a fraudulent website, she received a call from fraudsters pretending to be from her bank. They even faked her bank phone number.
She transferred £1,500 before realising she had been tricked.
The impact of the event was huge. “I was so upset. I was scared. And anxious,” Mrs Runham said. She is now in her 40s.
Victim Support was able to provide a lot for me because of my severe anxiety.
Her bank took over a year to reimburse her.
To go through the complaint process takes courage. She said that she felt like they were blaming her.
“I visited the ombudsman. “I felt free to go on my way after I received my money back.”
- Charity Age UK provides information and guidance on TV Licence frauds
Rocio Concha of Which? director of policy advocacy and research, stated: “This highlights the severity of emotional and psychological damage that victims experience when defrauded.”
The government cannot ignore the enormous impact that fraud epidemics are having on our society.
On Monday, she will present the results to the MPs regarding the Draft Online Safety Bill Joint Committee.
- Fraudsters steal £4m a day as crime surges
- ‘We lost nearly £10k to TV licence scammers’
- Anti-fraud Hotline 159 Launched
While the Bill draft includes provisions to address user-generated fraud such as romantic scams, it omits any scam ads that could lead to investment scams.
Together with Moneysavingexpert’s Martin Lewis campaigners, the consumer group is calling for urgent and more thorough action to combat online fraud.
The group is urging the government to add scam ads in the Online Safety Bill, as a first step toward new laws and regulations that place more content-policing responsibility online.
Priti Patel, Home Secretary, stated that online safety bills would combat “ruthless criminals” who have defrauded millions.
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