West Mercia Police have revealed that in January 2021, they saw the highest number of monthly fraud reports made to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime.

718 reports were made and £7.2 million were reported in losses linked to these.

Twenty five percent of these reports were related to online shopping fraud, with this type of fraud increasing month on month.

This comes after it was reported earlier in the week by national media that 6,000 cases of Covid-related fraud and cyber-crime were recorded by police forces during the pandemic.

West Mercia Police Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: “We have seen a six percent rise in reports made to Action Fraud in 2020-2021 compared to 2019-2020, with 6116 reports of fraud filed. In January 2021, West Mercia Police saw the highest ever number of monthly fraud reports made to Action Fraud.

“Frauds recorded have included fake vaccine emails, texts and phone calls, to targeting the entertainment applications and services people have been relying upon while spending more time at home such as TV channel subscriptions. The NHS, police and government services have also been used as covers for fraud in order to steal people’s money.

“While the NHS rolls out its invaluable vaccine to the country, it’s despicable that fraudsters have taken advantage of such an important tool in our fight against this deadly disease. Not only are people being targeted with emails and texts and at risk of losing money or having their identity stolen, but they are also at risk of not receiving the genuine vaccine.”

In 2020, West Mercia Police and staff working in bank, building society and post office branches stopped £888,829.25 of fraud in West Mercia.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright added: “The public have been fantastic at reporting these scams to us and Action Fraud and raising awareness in their local community as well. Remember: anything purporting to be from the NHS asking you to pay for the vaccine, or provide your bank account or card details, is a scam.

“We are working hard to detect and bring these people, often Organised Crime Groups, to justice.”

To report a case of fraud contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.