Customers were often unaware they had been tricked by an imposter or that they had bought counterfeit goods. This type of fraud accounted for £99 million in the first two quarters of 2015, an increase of £70 million on the same period last year.
In one case, the defendants are alleged to have set up fake government websites to dupe people into handing over money for administrative services for which the end consumer did not in fact have to pay. The losses are thought to total £30 million.
“Criminals are inserting themselves into the supply chain, and unwitting buyers often genuinely do not realise they are dealing with an intermediary when they do not need to, as a result of misrepresentation. This issue has been aggravated by the sheer volume of transactions conducted online. Criminals are inherently adaptable and have seamlessly moved with the times, adapting the way in which they target victims to take advantage of advances in technology and anonymity afforded by digital commerce,” says Hitesh Patel, Partner Forensics, KPMG in the UK.