Northern Ireland

More than 3,400 cases of fraud in Northern Ireland in 2023

Speakers at the second annual Northern Ireland Fraud Forum Conference (Press Eye/PA)
Speakers at the second annual Northern Ireland Fraud Forum Conference (Press Eye/PA) Speakers at the second annual Northern Ireland Fraud Forum Conference (Press Eye/PA)

There have been more than 3,400 cases of recorded fraud in the first nine months of 2023.

The figure represents a 6% rise on 2022, the second annual Northern Ireland Fraud Forum Conference in Belfast heard on Wednesday.

Private, public and third sector organisations gathered at the Hilton Hotel during international fraud awareness week to discuss the “growing epidemic of online fraud and cyber crime in Northern Ireland”.

A joint report from the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and Cifas highlighted the need for future action to tackle the unprecedented levels of scams, with 10% of UK residents losing money to scams in the past 12 months.

Cifas has also recorded that more than half of scams in Northern Ireland are incidents of identity fraud, with most victims falling within the 61-plus age category, and UK Finance, the collective voice of the banking and finance industry, reported earlier this year that around £2,300 was stolen for every minute of 2022.

Speakers at the event, which includes representatives from the PSNI, Ofcom, Cifas, Companies House, and Danske Bank, warned against the prevalence of fraudulent activities ahead of Black Friday sales and the Christmas period.

They also cautioned against scams offering financial help, lucrative investment opportunities, employment scams and fake adverts.

Wayne Denner, an advocate for building awareness of fraud among young people, also spoke about the current trends and emerging issues facing young people from organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland.

Bill McCluggage, chairman of the Northern Ireland Fraud Forum, said more needs to be done to tackle the growing problem of online fraud and cyber crime in Northern Ireland

“There is no doubt that cyber-enabled crime and online scams have reached epidemic proportions, with this only set to increase as we fast approach Black Friday and the busy Christmas shopping period,” he said.

“It’s appalling that, if the recent trend continues, one in 10 of us are likely to lose money to these criminals.

“These fraudsters are also taking advantage of people’s generosity with fake charity scams, and they are ruthlessly exploiting users of social media with their evolving methods of deception.

“Not only can victims lose large sums of money to these scams, but they also inflict significant distress on those who fall prey to them, especially amidst a protracted cost of living crisis.

“It is clear that we need to do more to counter this growing problem of online fraud and cyber crime in Northern Ireland.

“Two new Acts of Parliament, namely the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act and the Online Safety Act, will go some way in providing law enforcement, financial institutions, and organisations, with the tools to fight fraud and cyber-enabled crime. However, more needs to be actioned to raise awareness and prevent any further growth in fraud.”