The National Crime Agency is warning people they have two weeks to save their computers from a powerful malicious software attack. The malware called GOZeuS is hiding within attachments in emails and, once downloaded, enables hackers to access computers and scan them for valuable information.
If no data is found, a second malware, known as CryptoLocker, locks the computer, displays a window with a countdown, and demands a ransom to grant access again.
According to the NCA, people are asked to pay 1 Bitcoin (£200 - £300) to regain access to their files.
The NCA is advising people to make sure security software is installed and updated, by running scans and checking that computer operating systems and applications are up to date.
Most of the public see insurance fraud as wrong as "stealing towels from a hotel room," an industry chief told Good Morning Britain.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance said there had been an increase in people phoning the industry cheat line to report fraudulent claims.
"They think it may be a victimless crime, but in fact it is not. Just motor insurance fraud alone is probably costing £50 on everybody's premium."
It has "never" been harder to get away with committing insurance fraud, according to an industry watchdog, who warned penalties were now "severe".
Aidan Kerr, the ABI's assistant director, head of fraud, said:
The message is clear: never has it been harder to get away with committing insurance fraud; never have the penalties - ranging from a custodial sentence and a criminal record to difficulties in obtaining financial products in the future - been so severe.
Sixty people, including seven members of the same family, were convicted for their role in a series of staged accidents which involved over £514,000 of fraudulent insurance claims, an industry watchdog said.
The ABI estimated a total £1.3bn in insurance fraud was committed last year. Some of the wackiest fake claims also included:
- A professional golfer who claimed £8,000 on his income protection policy for a knee injury that he said left him unable to work, but was caught on camera giving golf lessons. He was ordered to do 140 hours unpaid community work.
- A woman was jailed for 22 months following a series of invented street robberies for items including laptops and designer clothes.
- A vet was jailed for two years for inventing veterinary claims totalling nearly £200,000 for treating non-existent pets.
The combined cost of fraudulent insurance claims reached a record £1.3 billion last year, according to an industry watchdog.
Data released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the annual cost of insurance fraud passed on to the customer was around £90 per head.
The body said there has also been a "significant" increase in people phoning up to report suspected fraudsters, indicating a growing acknowledgement that this is not a "victimless" crime.
Fraudulent motor insurance claims were the most expensive and common to be exposed, with 59,900 dishonest claims worth £811 million detected last year.
Victims targeted by fraudsters lose "much more" than money, and that is why sentencing needs to be tougher, a high ranking Judge has said.
Sentencing Council chairman Lord Justice Treacy explained:
Fraudsters are in it to make money, but for their victims it can mean much more than losing money.
Our research with victims showed the great impact it can have on them, so the guideline puts this impact at the centre of considerations of what sentence the offender should get.
The total amount of money fraudsters made out of their victims came to £9.1billion between 2012 and 2013, according to the Sentencing Council.
They also found that victims were targeted in multiple ways:
- As part of Ponzi schemes
- At cashpoints
- By cowboy builders
- Via identify fraud
- Online phishing schemes
- Fake online ticket sites
- Dating sites
- Businesses were defrauded of £2.1 billion
- The public lost £20.6 million
- Faud against the not-for-profit sector cost charities £147 million in the same period.
The Sentencing Council is urging judges to pass tougher sanctions against fraudsters who deliberately target the vulnerable.
They want to see victims at the centre of new guidelines on fraud, money laundering and bribery.
This would mean longer sentences for those caught swindling money out of vulnerable members of the society.
In 2012, 17,926 people were sentenced for fraud, a hugely varied offence that can affect individuals, businesses, public money and charities.
The Local Government Association has said that Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Plymouth Council and Hull City Council recently secured their first prosecutions against fraudsters. Manchester City Council has a 100% conviction rate with more than 500 prosecutions in the past five years.
It is shocking how low some people are stooping in order to con a few hours of free parking, including using a dead relative's blue badge or leaving a disabled parent trapped in their home.
Councils are determined to do everything in their power to protect the quality of life for our disabled and vulnerable residents.
Councils are also using new powers to seize and confiscate badges suspected of being used illegally and some have set up specific enforcement teams to tackle blue badge fraud.
The number of prosecutions for Blue badge fraud have doubled in three years, with professional people such as lawyers and architects among the offenders.
Unscrupulous fraudsters have been caught using a dead relative's pass or leaving a disabled parent stuck at home in order to park for free to go shopping or travel to work, said the Local Government Association (LGA) .
There were 686 successful council prosecutions in 2013 - up from 330 in 2010 as councils cracked down on offenders.
More than two million disabled people use blue badges for free parking in pay-and-display bays and parking for up to three hours on yellow lines through the nationwide scheme. In London, badge-holders are exempt from the congestion charge.