CYBER criminals stole more than £50,000 from older people in Warwickshire last year.
Charity Age UK revealed the statistics following a Freedom of Information request to Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre.
It found Warwickshire Police received 185 reports of cybercrime between April 2018 and March 2019 from people aged 55 and over, amounting to a total lost of more than £52,000.
The most common examples were investment fraud, identity theft, fraudulent adverts, and blackmail, and it is believed as only three per cent of cyber crime is reported the actual figure could be much higher.
But the charity says the problem has escalated during lockdown, with more older people going online to work, shop and keep in touch with friends and family.
Director Caroline Abrahams says without the proper support they have been at extra risk.
She said: “During lockdown the majority of us relied on the internet to stay connected and we know some older people were also encouraged to go online for the first time. That’s hopefully something they have enjoyed and benefited from and will want to continue now lockdown is being eased. However, unfortunately we also know cybercriminals were very active in exploiting the situation, seeking to con older people out of their hard-earned cash.
“Online crime is often highly sophisticated and tough to spot so anyone can be taken in, but if you are new to the internet and learned to use it in a rush, with little support, you are potentially more vulnerable to being caught out.”
The majority of fraud linked to coronavirus involves online purchases for personal protective equipment, such as face masks, that never arrive.
Criminals have also been sending emails and texts claiming to be from the government, HMRC, BBC TV licencing and health bodies to convince the recipient to open links or attachments and get them to reveal personal or financial information.
Call Age UK’s free national Advice Line on 0800 169 65 65 any day of the week between 8am to 7pm or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/scams for advice on staying safe online.