Cybercrime and Online Fraud
What is cybercrime?
The term cybercrime refers to a variety of crimes carried out online using the internet through computers, laptops, tablets, internet-enabled televisions, games consoles and smart phones.
A lot of fraud takes place online with many offenders relying on the internet to carry out their crime. Sometimes fraudsters only need the smallest piece of information, such as your address, email or phone number to commit a crime.
There are two types of cybercrime:
These can only be committed using computers, computer networks or other forms of ICT - stealing confidential information that’s stored online, for example.
Examples of common cyber-dependent crimes inlcude:
• Phishing: bogus emails asking for security information and personal details
• Ad clicker: allows a criminal to direct a victim’s computer to click a specific link
• Webcam manager: where criminals takeover your webcam
• File hijacker: where criminals hijack files and hold them to ransom
• Keylogging: where criminals record what you type on your keyboard
• Screenshot manager: allows criminals to take screenshots of your computer screen
• Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks
Other crimes which are carried out online, but could be committed without the use of the internet, such as sexual grooming, stalking or harassment and bullying, are called cyber-enabled crimes.
Romance fraud is also a type of cyber-enabled crime. When you think you’ve met the perfect partner through an online dating website or app, but the other person is using a fake profile to form a relationship with you in order to steal money or personal information for identity theft.
People who commit cybercrimes are often well organised and believable online. There are always new online scams being developed by fraudsters to try and trick you into giving them money or information so it is important to always be vigilant. However, even the most careful people can be caught out so there is no need to feel embarrassment if you have been a victim.
There are practical tips that can help you avoid falling victim to cyber-dependant crime such as:
- creating strong passwords using three random words and having different passwords for different accounts
- turning on 2-step verification for added protection where available
- using a password manager to store and protect your passwords
- ensuring you have a firewall and antivirus protection on your computer
- only using secure and trusted websites when shopping and researching companies and sellers before purchasing things such as holidays
Other resources, tips and advice are available to help raise awareness and protect you from cybercrime. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
The STOP! Think Fraud campaign collates lots of information about spotting different types of fraud and how to protect yourself.
Thames Valley Police has developed a romance fraud e-booklet designed to demonstrate the clever tactics used by romance fraudsters with a view to empowering people, as well as dispelling the myths of shame and embarrassment often associated with this type of crime.
Tips and advice are also available to help keep your children safe online, such as child safety features in your internet browser to help protect children from unsafe websites, as well as tips on staying safe when using internet dating and social networking. You can access further practical advice and tips through Get Safe Online or CyberStreetwise.
If you have been a victim of cybercrime, you should report it to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. You can call the Action Fraud team on 0300 123 2040.
Reporting suspicious emails
If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about or think is a scam you can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Reporting suspicious texts
Most phone providers are part of a scheme that allows customers to report suspicious text messages for free by forwarding it to 7726. If you forward a text to 7726, your provider can investigate the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender, if it’s found to be malicious.
Victims First can support victims of cybercrime. This includes support for young people who may have been victims of online crime including grooming and exploitation. For support or to make a referral for someone else, please visit our Get Support Now page.