The changing identity of UK fraud victims

We reveal the changing identity of fraud victims, after teaming up with CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, as the fifth annual edition of its Fraudscape report is unveiled.

Fraudscape analyses fraud trends and patterns annually. This year, the report includes collaboration with us to bring attention and further insight into the people who have fallen victim to, and perpetrated, fraud. To view the full Fraudscape report click here.

Our socio-demographic clarification tool Mosaic, has been used for the first time to overlay the recorded cases of fraud on the CIFAS National Fraud Database. Mosaic provides insight into the characteristics of postcodes and neighbourhoods throughout the UK and classifies people into one of 67 types and 15 groups.

The changing level and nature of identity-related crimes since 2009* has had a substantial effect on the demographics of the identity related fraud victims. Overall, the more financially secure social groups are more likely to be victims of identity-related crimes. Most frequently targeted by identity fraudsters are the Alpha Territories group – an average of 764 victims each year per 100,000 adult population. This group consists of people with substantial wealth who live in the most sought after neighbourhoods. Not far behind are the Liberal Opinions group – at 513 victims per 100,000. They are young, well-educated city dwellers enjoying the vibrancy and diversity of urban life and the Professional Rewards group – 424 victims per 100,000 – made up of experienced professionals in successful careers enjoying financial comfort in suburban or semi-rural homes.

But examining the more detailed Mosaic types, findings reveal that those that would be seen as more affluent, in general, were targeted less now than in 2009. However, the reverse is true for those that would be seen as less affluent.

In 2009, the two segments most commonly targeted were the Serious Money type – at 1,295 victims per 100,000 – made up of families with considerable wealth living in large, exclusive detached houses where money is no object, and Distinctive Success – 1,085 victims per 100,000 – successful business people, often self-made, living in large detached houses in semi-rural locations. However, more recently the case has been that other groups are targeted as often, emphasising that identity-related crimes are no longer a problem just for those who have the financial backing or means to cope with the effects of being targeted.

They include:
• Urban Cool (950 victims per 100,000)– successful city dwellers owning or renting expensive flats in popular inner urban locations;
• Global Fusion (904 victims per 100,000) – young working people living in metropolitan terraces from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds; and
• Re-housed migrants (780 victims per 100,000) – people from diverse ethnic backgrounds surviving in low standard small flats mostly rented from inner London councils.

The increase in the rates of identity related fraud victims for some of the younger, less affluent Mosaic types coincides with an increase in the use of the internet as the delivery channel for fraud. Across all fraud types, the use of the internet has increased from 45 per cent in 2009 to 64 per cent in 2013. The delivery channels that have fallen in usage include the telephone and mail. This switch towards the internet as the mechanism for fraud has, at least in part, influenced the change in the demographic distribution of fraud victims across the different Mosaic types.  

One of the benefits of appending Mosaic to the National Fraud Database is that it can show previously unseen locations where pockets of fraud victims sit. Across the entire population, fraud victims tend to be concentrated in and around Greater London and the south east of England. Examining the same variable, but restricting the analysis for the Mosaic type with the highest fraud rates reveals a similar concentration in London, but less so for the South East, with additional high rates found in areas outside of London and the South East such as Doncaster, West Bromwich and Walsall.

*About the research
CIFAS teamed up with Experian to overlay the recorded cases of fraud on the National Fraud Database (NFD) against Mosaic, Experian’s consumer classification tool, to get a precise picture of the victims and perpetrators of identity fraud. Mosaic is a socio-demographic classification tool that provides insight into the demographic characteristics of postcodes and neighbourhoods throughout the UK, helping to understand more about a location and the people it serves.  The details of cases recorded to the NFD over the course of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and part of 2013 were run against Mosaic, in order to ascertain the demographic groups that the perpetrators and victims fall into.  The trends identified from this data still apply to date.