REPORTS of web-based fraud cases are rapidly increasing but the States police fear they are only seeing the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
By the end of this year the force is set to record a ‘fourfold’ increase in reported cyber-fraud compared with the previous 12 months.
During the whole of last year there were 22 reports. As of the middle of July this year officers had received at least 30.
Since February 2016 there have also been more than 1,500 intelligence reports about suspected fraud filed to the Joint Fraud Prevention Forum’s Scams 500 email address – firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, reports of businesses in the Island being attacked are almost ‘non-existent’, according to Chief Inspector Chris Beechey, who said bosses might not be coming forward because they don’t want to damage their firm’s reputation.
At least 20 local businesses, including a bank, a trust, a property management firm and an insurance company, are believed to have been affected by a massive international cyber-attack in June. Security experts estimate the attack could cost the Island ‘millions’.
‘No one can deal with this global threat on an individual basis,’ Chief Insp Beechey said. ‘If your business is attacked and you tell us we can warn others. What goes around then comes around and there is the chance that your business, in the future, will benefit from someone else’s report.’
Chief Insp Beechey, the force’s lead on cyber-crime, said officers are currently seeing individual Islanders targeted by fraudsters masquerading as betting firms.
So-called romance scams – whereby criminals pose as singletons online, gather their victim’s trust before persuading them to part with their money – are also common.
The officer said he could not put a figure on the value of money lost by Islanders to cyber-fraudsters but said statistics from the UK showed victims lost around £10 billion a year on average.
‘We are seeing a definite increase in reporting locally but I fear it is still likely to be the tip of the iceberg – by the end of this year we are on for a fourfold increase,’ the officer said.