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RESEARCH: Study Shows over one in ten Brits are willing to engage in ‘illegal or illicit’ online behaviour as the Cost of Living crisis worsens

By June 8, 2023November 28th, 2023No Comments

1000 UK respondents painted a bleak picture of the current  economic landscape in the UK, with a marked generational gap also present 

Eskenzi PR & Marketing has released further results from the 2023 Cost of Living Crisis survey, which aimed to understand how Britons – and the cybercriminals who target them – have been coping with the seemingly ever-worsening cost of living crisis. 

The results of the survey found that 11% of Brits were tempted to engage in ‘illegal or illicit online behaviour’ in order to help manage the fallout from the cost of living crisis. This statistic becomes even more concerning when focused on younger people, with almost a Quarter of 25-35 year old respondents (23%) willing to consider illegal or illicit online activity, reflecting Britain’s endemic problem of generational wealth inequality

While it is obviously concerning that so many Britons are willing to engage in this kind of activity, the reasons underpinning this decision are reflective of the bleak state of the nation in 2023, as the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze many households: Of those willing to engage in this kind of behaviour, 56% suggested it was because they are desperate, and struggling to get by, and need to find alternative means of supporting their families. 

While these results show that the general public are responding to the cost of living crisis, previous results from the 2023 Cost of Living Crisis Survey showed that cybercriminals are responding in kind: 44% of respondents have also noticed an uptick in online scams hitting their inboxes since the cost of living crisis began in late 2021/early 2022. Another worrying finding is that this uptick is proving devastatingly effective for scammers: Over one in ten (13%) of UK respondents have already been scammed since the cost of living crisis began. This rises to a Quarter (26%) of respondents in the 18-25 age range, reflecting a hyper-online lifestyle and culture which scammers can work to exploit effectively. 

Perhaps most worrying is that these scams appear to be working:. For example, a quarter (25%) of those who have noticed more scams in their inbox since the beginning of the cost of living crisis have fallen victim to a scammer, compared to just 3% of those who have not. 

“These findings paint a bleak picture of both the current mood of many UK residents responding to the cost of living crisis, and of the cybercriminal landscape in which scammers are seeking to exploit the corresponding desperation.” said Yvonne Eskenzi, Founder of Eskenzi PR. 

“The completely natural human desire to protect and support your family is a commendable one, but as experts in the online cybercrime landscape, we would advise anyone tempted to engage in illegal or illicit online behaviour to exercise extreme caution; Adding fuel to this fire simply works to ensure the cycle of misery created continues, and continues to wreak havoc on an already vulnerable general public. The best thing that people can do in response to illegal online behaviour is to remain hyper-vigilant to the kind of scams we have seen such a dramatic rise in, and follow expert guidance and advice”.

Top tips for identifying and avoiding online scams include: 

  • Checking the email address against known legitimate communications from an organisation 
  • Not clicking on unverified links 
  • Checking the message for spelling errors or typos 
  • Checking the legitimacy of a domain
  • Doing a quick search to see if any similar message has been reported online as a scam 
  • See if the message conveys a sense of urgency: If it does, it is more likely to be a scam 
  • Check if this is the first communication you’ve had from the sender; this is often suspicious


This survey was conducted by Censuswide, polling 1000 UK residents.