A consumer group is warning people to be aware of 12 ‘emerging fraud threats’.

Which? has based its findings on Action Fraud figures reported in the latest Office for National Statistics crime survey for England and Wales.

The data revealed people aged between 20 and 39 are the most likely to have reported being scammed in the past year, accounting for two in five (39%) reports to Action Fraud.

Many young victims have lost huge sums of money to online shopping scams, pyramid schemes and rental fraud.

Between November 2020 and December 2021, individual victims lodged 448,838 reports with Action Fraud and more than £1.9 billion was lost, Which? said.

People aged 60 to 79 made up one in five (20%) fraud reports. This age group made up the highest proportion of reports for computer repair fraud (47%).

Online shopping scams and auction fraud were the most reported type of fraud overall, while investment frauds were responsible for the biggest losses, with the average victim losing more than £50,400 to pyramid or Ponzi schemes. These scams may involve recruiting friends or family members.

Many scams originate online via phishing emails or rogue adverts on search engines and social media. Sham investment firms often pretend to be backed by celebrities or online influencers.

The 12 “emerging fraud threats” identified by Which?

This list of the 12 “emerging fraud threats” identified by Which? include the year-on-year increase in reports of such scams to Action Fraud in brackets and the average scam loss.

1. Online shopping/auction scams (14%), £650

2. “Other” advance fee fraud – where scammers ask someone to pay money upfront for fictional goods or rewards (15%), £1,296

3. Offline shopping fraud – this could include buying goods from a newspaper advert in person or on the high street (14%), £2,692

4. Computer repair fraud (24%), £1,448

5. “Other” investment fraud – financial fraud perhaps involving foreign exchange, cryptocurrency or investment seminars (34%), £24,089

6. Dating scams (39%), £10,349

7. Boiler room scams – involving bogus stockbrokers cold calling people to pressure them into buying shares (57%), £24,887

8. Rental fraud (11%), £1,531

9. Phone fraud – fraudsters may pose as a mobile network to offer non-existent or worthless insurance, or scams may involve missed calls or texts that charge premium rates when someone replies (48%), £252

10. Pyramid/Ponzi schemes – investment scams may pay earlier investors with money taken from later investors, but the flow of new investors eventually runs out and so do the returns (59%), £50,429

11. Fraud recovery scams – when someone is asked to pay a fee to someone who pretends they can recover money you lost to a previous fraud (33%), £17,598

12. “419” advance fee fraud – these scams involve a bogus request from a stranger to pay an admin fee to help move money from one country to another in return for a portion of the money (61%), £2,563