NEARLY £4 million was stolen from businesses in North Yorkshire over the last year through online crime.

Between March 2015 and 16, a total of £3,952,171 was reported lost by businesses in North Yorkshire as a result of fraud and hacking.

Nationally, there has been a 22 per cent increase in online crime, according to Action Fraud.

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Walker, head of cybercrime at North Yorkshire Police, said: “For today’s modern business, the ability to safely email, work remotely and operate a website is crucial to everyday operation, success, and the ability to grow.

“However, hand in hand with this does come an element of risk. Business owners need to be aware of this type of increasing crime that threatens their security, and how to take steps to prevent it. A part of this is ensuring employees are also aware of the potential risks to the business and their part in how to prevent it.

“I also encourage businesses to report any suspicious activity online or threats and breaches of their security. The more intelligence and evidence we can gather, the better chance we have of driving down this type of crime.”

On average, each police force in the UK recorded £19,626,323 in losses by businesses in their area. However, the true picture could be even higher, as these figures do not take into account the amount potentially lost by those businesses who choose not to report online crime to the police.

Police in North Yorkshire are becoming increasingly concerned about mandate fraud - when a fraudster gets victims to change a direct debit or standing order by pretending to be an organisation they make payments to. There were 20 cases reported in North Yorkshire alone in the last year, and £168,872 lost to it by businesses in the area.

Corporate employee fraud – where employees or ex-employees steal from a business – is also on the rise, with nine cases recorded in 2015 to 2016 and £354,907 lost by business in North Yorkshire.

Hacking is one of the main issues facing businesses. A fraudster can hack into a business's system to obtain private information.

One of the most reported types of online crime in North Yorkshire last year was retail fraud through refund fraud, label fraud or when goods are ordered with no intention of paying. North Yorkshire saw 53 reported cases last year.

North Yorkshire Police has said it is vital for all businesses to provide their staff with the right tools and training to be able to identify signs of fraud or suspicious activity, before it’s too late, as well as having guidelines in place on whistleblowing.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting For further advice on how businesses can stay safe online go to