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A growing number of people do. According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales, the year to June saw 6.8m incidents of fraud and computer misuse (meaning mostly hacking). That is 43% more than two years earlier and 40% more than every other crime. The police have long put common, unsophisticated offences such as burglary, muggings and assaults into a category they call “volume crime”. Fraud is more voluminous than all of it.

“We don’t have much stuff in our homes that can be stolen and fenced down the pub,” says Mike Haley, the boss of Cifas, Britain’s fraud-prevention agency. But Britons do have bank accounts which can be drained, and equity in their homes that can be stolen during conveyancing. They were keen on digital commerce and banking even before covid-19, making them vulnerable to online fraud. Early last year the European Commission found that 67% of Britons had experienced a fraud or scam. Only two EU countries had higher rates.

The nature of fraud has changed, particularly in the past year (see chart). Payment-card fraud has declined, in part because banks have become better at spotting…

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