The prevalence of online fraud has spiked during the pandemic as people have relied more on the internet for everyday tasks, with £2.3bn lost by consumers last year.

Cases of fraud reported to the UK police unit Action Fraud rose by a third in 2020, reaching more than 410,000, according to analysis by consumer rights group Which?

Scams related to shopping, investments and delivery-related frauds, and carried out over phone and by text, had already been on the rise — but at a slower pace than in 2020. The consumer group warned that last year’s acceleration indicated that “the scams industry has boomed during the Covid pandemic”.

New laws to tackle soaring levels of financial fraud have been proposed in the UK government’s draft online safety bill, threatening social media sites with fines unless they do more to protect people from losing large sums of money.

But Jenny Ross, money editor at Which?, cautioned that regulators and…

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