With the high levels of online fraud, the police are unable to investigate every complaint they receive about instances of online crime and, in some cases they are unable to investigate.

Cases where individuals have been defrauded to the amount of a few hundred pounds are being pushed to the back of the queue, as police do not have the resources to cope with the problem.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on Personal Internet Security, which has been investigating problems related to e-commerce and online fraud, heard evidence from Gareth Griffith, eBay's head of trust and safety in the UK.

Griffith mentioned to the committee the statistic, from the government's Get Safe Online survey back in October, that 17% of UK internet users had been put off using the internet altogether due to bad experiences online.

He told the committee that eBay users had complained that the police had refused to investigate some cases where buyers had been defrauded on the auction site.

He told the committee:

"When we try to get police engaged, sometimes they say, “Look, we’d love to help you. If it is not over ‘x’ threshold” – thousands of pounds, or whatever it is -- “we can’t help you”. "

"We ask our community of users to go to their local police stations...what we find is the users coming back to us, saying, “They’re not interested”. It is only a £500 laptop, or whatever the issue might be. So I think that we see frustration on both sides."

While it is understandable that the police have to focus their resources on more high-level online crime, the lack of investigation of such cases is hardly likely to improve consumer confidence in shopping online.

It makes you wonder exactly how big an issue this is...


Graham Charlton

Published 5 March, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (1)


Rebecca Duggan

I am myself a victim. Living in the US we are faced with the exact same problem. I understand that the police are unable to investigate each and every case however if a data base were built to record items such as the users bank, the type of internet security exp. Norton fire wall, the url of recent valid on line purchases as well as the url of the invalid purchase. And the Shipping address and IP addresses that made the fraudulent purchase. This data base would help identify patterns that could be used to investigate what may be a large ring.

An example is that when I reported the charge I was told that my bank has an unusually large number of similar complaints. To me this raises a red flag. Does my bank have a security leak?

I am a long term e customer and have never had any problems. I just switched to Norton and have had my first problem.

I also against my better judgment purchased soft ware that as it turns out was a very bad purchase. I tried to research the software before making a commitment however my research was inconclusive. I suspect the fraud is some how linked to this purchase.

over 11 years ago

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