Category: information

Official Crime Figures 2018


Overall levels of crime showed falls in recent decades, but levels have remained broadly stable in recent years.

In the last year there has been no change in overall levels of crime although this hides variation seen in individual crime types.

Headline figures

  • Theft showed a 13% increase compared with the year ending March 2017. Despite this increase, estimates of theft remain much lower than 20 years ago.
  • a 2% increase in vehicle offences, which includes an 8% increase in the subcategory of “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle”
  • an 11% increase in robbery
  • a 3% decrease in burglaries, following rises seen in the previous two years
  • a 17% increase in fraud offences
  • a 21% decrease in computer misuse

Figures for year ending March 2019,
Things to note
21% decrease (to 966,000 offences) in computer misuse offences estimated by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). The CSEW is the best source for measuring the volume of computer misuse offences as it captures offences that go unreported.
Fraud 17% increase in fraud offences estimated by the CSEW (to 3,809,000 offences). The CSEW provides the best indication of the volume of fraud offences experienced by individuals as it captures the more frequent lower-harm cases that are likely to go unreported to the authorities.

There are figures available for all types of crime – above is just for computer misuse and fraud.

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A Scammers Mindset

As with many criminals, people who scam others for a living tend to carry on doing so until something dramatic makes them think again – such as a significant prison sentence, losing someone important in their life, violence etc.

“Fred” was a scammer for many years, working for various scam outfits until the day the Federal agents turned up at his office and he ended up spending several years in prison. Now he works to prevent fraud and warn people of how it is done. This is Fred’s warning.


Developing the Persona

The scammer assumes a false personality or social mask that makes it easier to pull off the deception. Swindling is really acting, and you play a character who will help you appear legitimate, confident and successful … even when you are not.

On the outside you will see nothing but charm, an engaging personality and swagger. On the inside lies a predator. There is no conscience in this business. It’s every person for themselves, and the goal is to get as much money as possible.

The business needs to have a persona, too, to look legitimate and trustworthy. Some scam companies run television commercials and hire famous actors to appear in them.

It’s About Emotion, Not Logic

Think about the first time you fell in love or a time when someone cut you off on the freeway and you were seething for hours. Were you thinking clearly? Probably not. Those who believe they’d never fall for a scam don’t realize it’s not about how smart you are; it’s about how well you control your emotions. Fraud victims are people with emotional needs, just like the rest of us. But they can’t separate out those needs when they make financial decisions. That’s what makes them vulnerable.

As a master scammer, I made it my first objective to get the victim’s emotions stirred up and so agitated that you won’t know which way is up and which is down. Once I have gotten you into this condition, it doesn’t matter how smart or dumb you are, you will succumb.

The two most powerful ways to do this are through need and greed.

To find a client’s emotional need, I’ll ask a bunch of personal questions. Then I’ll throttle up the pressure by focusing on that need. “Oh, you lost your job? That’s got to be tough.” Or “So your two kids are in college and the tuition is driving you into the poorhouse.” Now the person isn’t thinking about whether the offer is a scam but instead, “Here’s a fix for my problems.”

The “crush,” or the “kill” — that’s what we call closing the deal — is emotionally driven. It’s not logic. If you apply logic, the answer is: “No, I am not going to send you my hard-earned money. I don’t even know who you are.” If my victims had applied logic to our deals, they would have walked away every time.

The other pathway to the ether is simple greed: I just promise people they can make a ton of money.


The Perfect Victim

I’m often asked how I could have ripped off senior citizens. The answer is that con men target people who have money, and a lot of seniors are sitting on fat nest eggs. It’s the Willie Sutton rule: He robbed banks because that is where the money was.

But there’s more to it than that. I think older people are easier to scam, because their emotional needs are closer to the surface. They aren’t afraid to tell people how much they care about their kids and grandkids. They aren’t afraid to share their fears about the unstable financial markets and how much they worry about being on a fixed income. These fears are real. And every one of them is a bullet for my gun.

My scam career was focused on investments like phony oil and gas deals, bogus business opportunities and gold-coin scams. And for these types of investments the perfect victim was almost always a male. Why men? Men are grandiose; they are full of ego. And that’s all driven by emotion; it’s driven by insecurity; it’s driven by a feeling of inferiority.

Most people who get emotional quickly will fall every time. And if they don’t get worked up, I won’t waste my time with them. If prospects are asking a lot of questions or tell me they want to think it over or talk with their lawyer, I will hang up the phone. Victims don’t ask a lot of questions; they answer a lot of questions. Victims don’t read paperwork; they wait for you to tell them what it says. Victims don’t look for why the offer is a scam; they look for why the offer will make them money. They want you to make them feel good so they can pull the trigger.


Early on in my career I was selling bogus oil and gas units to investors. We were selling units for $22,500 for a quarter unit, or $90,000 for a full unit, promising a 10-to-1 return. Sure, we had a well, but it was a dry hole, and we knew it — there was no chance of hitting oil. Every so often when I was pitching these deals, an investor would ask if I was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. I would always say, “Of course we are, and I want you to verify that the minute we get off the phone.” The truth is, we were never registered, but 98 percent of the people who ask that question never check. They just want to hear me say it.

Don’t Get Burned

Never make a buying decision when you’ve just heard the sales pitch. Always give yourself at least 24 hours to think about it. This gives you time for the emotional effects of the sales presentation to subside — and time for you to do research.

Don’t ever share personal information about your family or about your worries with people who are trying to sell you something.

In any interaction with someone trying to sell you a deal, always ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” In other words, if this is such a great deal, why are they calling you about it? Why don’t they just do it themselves?

 If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Phishing a WiFi Password

Most people believe that using Wi-Fi in public places is safe as long as there is a password needed to access the service, rather than the public ones with open access.

However, there are assorted methods used by hackers to get into Wi-Fi services and in particular a set of software and techniques we’ll call Wi-FiX (not the real name).

Sadly, Wi-FiX is available on the Internet to anyone with programming skills.

The basic method used involves the software creating a fake Wi-Fi access point that mimics the real ones on the selected network. Then it jams any messages to the real access points and posts up a message requesting login and password. The user cannot get around this so enters their login and password and then the software relays on the messages to the real wi-fi access point so the user believes everything is OK again, but the fake Wi-FI access point is recording all of the traffic.

In that data may well be logins and passwords, credit card details etc.

The details are complex but below is a simple technical explanation

  1. The victim is deauthenticated from their access point. WiFiXcontinuously jams all of the target access point’s wifi devices within range.
  2. WiFiXcopies the target access point’s settings. It then creates a rogue wireless access point that is modelled on the target. It also sets up a NAT/DHCP server and forwards the relevant
  3. The victim is requested to re-input login and password which WiFiX can use to access the genuine access point. The victim joins the hacker’s rogue access point.

The victim continues to use the Wi-Fi unaware that all of their messages are being copied and examined for confidential information etc.

Always be wary of using Wi-Fi outside of your home and office.

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Good Reviews for Lousy Products

Which? has warned that user review ratings of products often do not match their own professional reviews.

15 products on the Which? Do Not Buy list have user ratings of at least 4.2 out of 5.

That seems too much of a mismatch.

Now, with reviews of very subjective things such as movies it’s very common for professional critics to have different views to those of the public.

But with everyday products such as hair driers or head phones you wouldn’t expect such a gap unless something a little odd is going on.

In a small number of cases, it has been shown that unscrupulous sellers create fake reviews to promote their products and there have been Facebook groups where people are paid to “review”  products. The reviews are supposed to be impartial but the reviewers know that continuing access to payments is contingent on positive reviews.

However, there are other factors to consider.

Have you ever bought a product and got the email asking for a review before it was delivered or a day or two after delivery. This may be too soon to have even opened the package let alone formed a reliable opinion on it. The easiest answer can be to just say 3 or 4 out of 5 without thinking.

Also, it may be that people are responding positively to a product because it was delivered quickly or good customer service etc. rather than rating the actual quality of the product and its capabilities.

Plus it is the case that many products will take months of usage to really determine their value and many products seem designed to impress but not to last.

The moral is don’t always take user reviews at face value – do read the details and if there aren’t sufficient details to impress you, then consider buying a different product.

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Improving the Quality of Consumer Reviews

Research shows that it is generally the people with strong opinions who leave product reviews and the majority without strong opinions tend not to leave so many reviews.

So that leaves most people with no voice, by their own choice.

Bigger companies, usually have more customers, which can mean a higher likelihood of more reviews, which can mean more potential customers reading the reviews which can lead to more sales.

This can be a virtuous circle for big brands.

Research by Sinan Aral for MIT suggests that some reviews can be systematically biased.

“Social proof”, a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in a given situation may be the basis for this.

Improving the Quality of Consumer Reviews

Reviews are shown to have a significant effect on consumer decision-making and it is important for people responsible for getting reviews (Marketing agencies and businesses) to do what they can to ensure the quality of their customers’ reviews.

  • Request feedback. The higher the percentage of customers that leave reviews, the better for the accuracy or the reviews overall. This can also reduce review bias and balance review sentiment. Requests can be through feedback surveys or simple questions post purchase.
  • Remind customers that their opinion helps others. When asking for feedback, social reinforcement goes a long way and can also lead to a better balance of reviews.
  • Provide incentives. These can be money rewards, but freebies, discounts, access to special offers etc. can also work.
  • Leave an appropriate length of time after purchase before asking for the review. E.g. PC World wait 28 days after purchase before asking for reviews.

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Are You Prepared for Security Incidents

  1. How well prepared are you to respond to a cyber security incident?
  • Do you have plans in place to respond to, and recover from, the most likely scenarios?
  • Have you practised your response to such incidents, including at senior management level?
  • Do you have the relevant expertise within the business or access to external sources with that expertise?
  • Do you have experts on call and ready to respond to a cyber incident?
  • Will the company be able to keep running in the aftermath of a serious cyber attack?

Cyber attacks are increasingly common and it’s not just large companies at risk, but businesses of all sizes.

Large businesses may have all the requisite controls necessary to deal with a cyber disruption, yet businesses of all sizes are at risk.  Get the protection and planning you need.

Average Investment in Cyber Security 2017/2018

  Micro/Small Businesses Medium Businesses Large Businesses
Mean Spend per year £2,220 £41,600 £149,000
Median Spend Per Year £152 £5,190 £24,700

You can see the difference in average spending on cyber security and this is reflected in the level of preparedness for cyber incidents by these various sized businesses. Charities spent significantly less than commercial business in all three size categories.

Whatever size your business and whatever it’s business, make sure you spend enough to ensure you are able to deal with cyber attacks and recover from them as too many businesses fold within months of such an attack.

The nature of your business may determine the dangers involved with online data and services and also the level of protection needed.

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