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Tackling online fraud


Fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in the UK, making up 39% of all crime and costing the economy an estimated £137 billion a year. Fraud offences have increased substantially since the pandemic and continue to do so. Most fraud is committed online, with 61% of incidents across England and Wales in 2021/2022 estimated to be cyber-related.  However, online fraud has not received the attention it should have had. 

Research into online fraud has centred on the financial impact it has had on economies in different parts of the world, but such research, by itself, cannot provide a basis to address the problem. Instead, there needs to be a greater focus on the perpetrators of fraud and their victims. What are the factors which drive people to commit fraud? What is a fraudster’s typical background? How are victims of online fraud identified and targeted? What is the impact of online fraud on victims? How can victims of online fraud best be supported? Gaining answers to these questions can provide the basis for more effective and targeted measures to prevent, prepare, protect and pursue.


Funded by the Dawes Trust, and in partnership with Birkbeck University and the Police Foundation, we are conducting research to establish a more comprehensive and meaningful understanding of the nature of online fraud by:

1. Developing a new classification of online fraud. This will be done by:

  • Using a wide range of data

  • Reviewing how the police, the Home Office and academics currently categorise fraud 

  • Testing alternative models of categories with experts and practitioners at a workshop.

2. Generating a better understanding of the impact of online fraud on victims and the wider public. This will include:

  • An evidence review of existing literature on the impact on victims of online fraud 

  • Qualitative engagement with the general public, victims and businesses. This will include surveys, interviews and focus groups.

3. Producing a comprehensive map of policy and practice in relation to online fraud. This will be done by:

  • A literature review to understand the current response to online fraud

  • Interviews with leading figures responsible for the response to online fraud

  • In-depth studies into two police forces to understand their response to investigation, enforcement and victim support.

4. Informing public debate on the question of online anonymity. This will be done through:

  • Qualitative engagement with experts and the general public through interviews, focus groups and a workshop.

5. Assessing future trends. This will be done through:

  • Reviewing relevant literature to understand how online fraud is likely to develop over the next ten years 


Get involved

We are committed to meaningful engagement with those with lived experience. If you have been a victim of online fraud, or know someone who has, and would like to share your experiences with us, please email: In the subject line, please write  ‘Dawes fraud engagement’.

Project Team


Amber Evans


As Strategy and Insight Manager, Amber leads on qualitative and quantitative analyses across a range of research and consultancy projects. Previously, Amber worked at the Behavioural Insights Team in policy areas including children’s social care, education, early intervention, public health and tackling the spread of COVID-19.


Freya Smith


Freya is an Analyst at Crest and specialises in qualitative research, providing support across a variety of projects, including leading literature reviews. Before working at Crest, Freya was employed at Human Rights Watch conducting research into domestic and foreign policy issues. Freya has a degree in Criminology, and a masters in International Politics.

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