The Action Fraud team — which serves Wales, England, and Northern Ireland — has seen a rise in scams and fraud activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated £34.5 million, or roughly $41 million, has been stolen in the U.K. since March 2020, BBC News reports.

The agency reported more than 6,000 cybercrime and fraud cases. Many of the incidents involved using internet purchases to convince victims their personal information was compromised and trick them into revealing their financial details.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) revealed it investigated around 30 “significant attacks” per month as part of the UK’s pandemic response.

Despite the growing number of cases, the National Crime Agency estimated that only one in five fraud cases are actually reported to the police.

The Action Fraud team found there was a rise in scams during April and May 2020, as well as in January 2021,  when lockdowns were ordered.

Cyber attackers have used bank loans, email attacks, and fake tech support to scam individuals into giving up personal information. Police in London have made over 150 COVID fraud-related arrests since the pandemic began.

However, individuals weren’t the only targets of scams throughout the pandemic. One in three charities reportedly fell victim to cyber-attacks during the first 10 months of the pandemic. Attackers have also tried to breach vaccine supply chains and vaccine producers.

Colleges have also become victims of cyberattacks. Most recently, the University of Northampton revealed its IT services and telephones were subjected to a cyber attack. The incident happened on March 17 but is still causing problems for the institution, ITV reports.

“We are working with expert consultants to investigate and resolve this issue as quickly as possible, including legal counsel and IT forensics investigators, who are assessing the impact and advising on the appropriate remedial actions,” a statement from the school read. 

Although the University of Northampton has launched an investigation and is working with the NCSC, the extent of how the cyber attack may affect faculty and students has not been revealed.

Interpol said new forms of online and telephone fraud have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic Interpol said new forms of online and telephone fraud have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic Photo: AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO