/ Money

Should fraud be a police priority?

A new report has found that when it comes to fraud, the police aren’t even putting their fists up to defend the public. Should it be a higher priority?

The police are fighting a losing battle against fraud.

The watchdog that oversees the performance of the police force, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, found that fraud is often deprioritised against other crimes.

Many forces don’t have enough resource to adequately investigate fraud and, in the instance of one police force, simply file away the overwhelming majority of cases without further investigation.

A fraud epidemic

We are in the midst of a fraud epidemic – around 3.3 million incidents were reported in the past year, and the estimated cost of fraud is in the billions – but it’s clear that the police are struggling to pull together the will and resource to tackle this emerging threat. And they claim there is no strategic leadership from government to help them in their fight against fraud.

Our own research has found that 96% of reported fraud cases go unsolved.

In September last year, we found that just one in four cases that have been reported to Action Fraud in the past four years were forwarded onto local police forces, and we estimated that less than 1% of the those have been solved, and 3% were still being investigated.

Despite the fact that fraud and cyber-crime offences are now 10 times more common than burglary, it is clearly not getting the attention it desperately needs.

Just two weeks ago, the banking industry reported that criminals successfully stole £1.2bn through fraud and scams.

On the pages of Which? magazine and online, we repeatedly follow the stories of people who’ve lost life-changing sums of money to scams.

Victims left feeling abandoned

Too often, victims are left feeling abandoned and confused as investigations drag on with little sign of progress.

To show they are serious about winning the battle against increasingly sophisticated fraudsters, the government, police and banking industry must establish a more coordinated approach and make scams a top priority.

This is a threat to public safety – failing to stem tsunami of scams we face will make beating the fraudsters near-impossible in the future.

Do you think fraud should be a higher priority for the police?

Tom says:
26 April 2019

The Police are very short of resources, and sadly there are worse crimes, though fraud can ruin lives. As others have said, much more could be done by banks and the financial industry – which they would do if the costs of fraud started hitting them where it counts, ie financially. So legislate to penalise banks and finance companies if they do not follow up cases of suspected fraud, and where evidence of fraud is found this should be passed to the CPS, in the same way the police investigate crimes, and pass to the CPS when they have amassed the evidence.

Ronnie Rees says:
26 April 2019

I was recently scammed – fortunately finding out very quickly with losses totalling less than £40. Very lucky. The only clue was a slightly different web address. My wife won’t go near on-line banking, a view reinforced by her business account and blog being regularly hacked apparently just for the hell of it despite considerable good security. I wonder whether I should return to a standard high street bank account though these seem to be an endangered species.

Barry Thickett says:
26 April 2019

Banks should. Do more

Gareth randall says:
26 April 2019

Better management of taxpayers money to reduce waste would enable more funding for the police to adequately tackle fraud

Lisa says:
26 April 2019

I knew they were under resourced ten years ago when the company i worked for employed a fraudster as a director. They did enough damage to the company to finish it but they didn’t get to the prize which was the invoice finance company. Police didn’t have the time etc to catch him so he got away with it. I didn’t blame them so much as the system that keeps them under resourced and without the ability to investigate fully.

Chris Murray says:
26 April 2019

I was nearly scammed by a fictitious email, apparently from PayPal that said they had noticed unusual activity on my account. It asked me to confirm my bank card details which I had started to fill in, in the boxes onscreen.then it asked for my bank ID and to confirm my password.
My bank uses voice recognition as my password..
I ran g PayPal to ask for advice..the told me change your bank details and inform your bank immediately. It’s a fishing scam to get your bank access details..
Nearly lost my savings.
PayPal don’t send emails like this.
Ring PayPal directly if you are unsure.. I was lucky…this time.

You were definitely lucky on this occasion Chris. Scam emails asking you to confirm account details have been around for many years and are always fraudulent so delete and ignore them.

If you hover over links in emails without clicking on them they will generally show site names that have nothing to do with the supposed sender. A look at the sender of the email is also usually a sure sign that the email is not to be trusted.

It is unwise to click on links in emails unless you 100% trust them and you should never ever click on links that might result in a financial transaction as fake emails are not just confined to PayPal.

Whilst was working at Citizens Advice Trafford, there were some exhaustive reports about very advanced scamming, targeting victims carefully with intelligence, so not technically illegal to start with. It is important we manage our expectations of the Police carefully…. I have been the victim of all kinds of fraud leading to identity theft. By going carefully through 101 channels, it is possible to have support and crime reference numbers, possibly after talking with Citizens Advice/Which etc first, and these have legal status, so insurance claims etc can be made. In a virtual world we live in too much in my opinion, it is hard for the Police to have a slam dunk…. I am safe now because I assessed it carefully and went through some CAB but also police control who took it seriously. Insurance is important, so is a good locksmith, and it is important to keep a close eye on bank statements, possibly a safe too keep identity documents and to be careful with “friends” etc.Keep passports upto date and keep driving licenses safe. These are more than just travel passes, they are carefully background checked and exhaustively referenced.

Over run police all communities are now experiencing some cyber crime (but there has to be more help )