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Metl health and online scamming

Being scammed online can trigger mental health issues

Being scammed online can trigger mental health issues, so it is important victims recognise that they need support and therefore talk to friends and family about their experiences, and to report the the scammers as well, UK’s media regulation authority, Ofcom, says in a report about scam and fraud. Europol announced that a law enforcement operation on April 4 involving 17 countries has taken down Genesis Market, a marketplace selling stolen account credentials to hackers worldwide.  

87% of adult internet users have seen online content which they think is a scam or fraud and 46% have personally been drawn into an online scam or fraud. Impersonation fraud (51%) was the most common type ever experienced, followed by counterfeit goods scams (42%), investment, pension or ‘get rich quick’ scams (40%) and computer software service fraud or ransomware scams (37%), according to a survey made for Ofcom.

A quarter of those who said they’d encountered online scams had lost money as a result (25%) – with a fifth (21%) being scammed out of £1,000 or more.

More than a third (34%) of all victims also reported that the experience had an immediate negative impact on their mental health, increasing to nearly two-thirds (63%) among those who had lost money.

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The most likely channel or type of online service to encounter a potential scam or  fraud was on email (30%), followed by social media newsfeed (12%). 

“There needs to be greater awareness of the current online scams in circulation. Scammers use a range of techniques to draw their victims in; and if online users are aware of the popular scam scenarios this can help them, possibly, avoid falling for them”, the report says.

 Online users would benefit from an improved understanding of the key characteristics of scams, the report argues and mentions:

  • Initial engagement (how scammers establish communication with potential victims)
  • The ‘hook’ (how they draw potential victims into engagement with a scam or fraud)
  • Techniques used to sustain engagement (e.g. frequent/overwhelming communication, tales of hardship)
  • Financial transaction phase (how scammers defraud potential victims into handing over their money) 
  • Potential impacts associated with scam or fraud (financial or otherwise), so they can identify a scam earlier in the process rather than when it is too late
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39% of respondents in the survey knew someone who has fallen victim to an online scam or fraud. The report shows a broad awareness of scams online in today’s society, with scams believed to be gaining in prevalence due to the increasing amount of activities carried out online, and the specific dynamics of some social media platforms which were considered by participants to be facilitating scammers’ operations.  

Respondents believed scammers exploit a number of factors, such as:

  •  A lack of account verification, meaning scammers can operate with anonymity; 
  •  A tendency for users to reveal personal details which can be used to manipulate potential victims; 
  • The fact that social media has become a common channel for brands to interact with the customers, and a sense of aspiration and envy cultivated by platforms. 
Read Also:  Europol identifying technologies used by criminals for e-commerce fraud



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