/ 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?

M joseph says:
4 April 2019

I cannot understand why fraudulent matters is not getting the priority it must get – it affects people , especially the elderly. the growing younger population who are encouraged to be financially knowledgeable and use banking facilities, and people from all backgrounds. Fear of fraud will affect how people manage their monies and documentation, and will lead to further unsafe methods of managing finances and further crime, I think. When it gets out of hand it will affect the country’s stability and economic situation. The government must act quickly I think and work with all the bodies – police, fraud detecting bodies

A scammer stole £4000 from us in a bank transfer fraud. We were interviewed by the local police because the police in Essex had a strong case against the likely fraudster, who, we were told, was suspected to have committed a large number of significant frauds. I was told I may have to go and testify in a trial. However months later, after much chasing on our part, nothing was happening, and in the end the police officer dealing with the case stopped communicating with us. The case seemed to have been dropped and we never heard anything more. When I complained about the length of time things were taking, the officer said they were so busy they didn’t have time to deal with the case.

Susan Cluderay says:
4 April 2019

This definitely needs to be a priority, I’ve had this happen to me and it’s devastating

sarah says:
4 April 2019

it is not a victimless crime . often very traumatic

Fraud is a serious crime and must be taken as priority -especially by the Banks! The Police as we all know don’t have enough resources, but they could employ a special team trained to deal with Fraud – the employment rate wouldn’t be the same as a Police Officer, but never the less, they would be paid to investigate and once proven – pass it on the nominated Police Officer in charge. The Banks of course – should upgrade their security software!

John Tye says:
4 April 2019

I agree that much more effort is required to tackle cyber crime, but I don’t see how just making it higher priority achieves anything. I could never agree to making it higher priority than violent burglary, knife crime, rape, etc. What is needed is more resources.

I agree, it should be a new department set up immediately perhaps with jailed fraudsters showing innocents how to stop it. Not over stretched uniformed officers. NEW DEPARTMENT at once…

Maybe Banks do not want investigations because a lot of he fraudulent activity is connected in-house. – theft and passing on of details and individuals helping themselves to clients savings?

A couple of years ago I bought a brand new HP laptop together with Microsoft Office software. When I tried to load the software the code on the program did not work. I was referred to a drop down screen with MS phone numbers. I rang the UK number and was connected to an individual who claimed to be in a MS call centre.
He explained that by paying a certain sum he could install the software and restore the system. To cut a long story short I was advised that I should cancel my credit card as soon as possible as I had been subjected to a scam. I reported this to Merseyside Police who gave me Action Fraud in London.
Full details were provided to the police but eventually they came back saying that no action would follow.
I spoke to my Credit card company and after a couple of months they refunded me in full.
I read in the Press that a similar scam had been prosecuted in Newcastle upon Tyne with the appropriate sentences handed out.
I am now very wary who I trust.

Liz O’Donnell says:
4 April 2019

My husband and I were the subject of identity theft The person/persons involved opened various catalogue accounts in our name and ran up
debts amounting to hundreds of pounds We contacted the police in person giving them the name and address of the persons involved basically they were not interested in their words the fraud was against the companies and not against us ! Our credit rating was affected and it took years of letter writing and emails to the various companies involved to clear our name The whole experience left me quite ill

Fraud and the fear of fraud are affecting the lives of many people and for those affected it can be life changing, or even possibly life ending in the worst cases. The police are being overwhelmed by rising numbers of all kinds of crime and as long as the government ignore the need for more financial resources it will undoubtedly get worse. Certainly, there should be a coordinated effort by govt, police and financial institutions to protect the public from this kind of crime and provide the police with the resources to participate in this effort.

…and, in popular soap operas such as The Archers, they could also have stories in which some of the cast members fall prey to fraudsters.

Note: other soap operas are available.

I stopped listening to the Archers when the agricultural content became rather superficial. Yesterday afternoon’s episode did mention one of the cast having debt problems.

I don’t know how effective it would be to raise awareness of fraud via stories in soap operas but it seems worth trying.

Soaps often use popular characters for tricky expositions, so I suspect they could play a role in helping to educate. And it is a major aspect of the BBC’s role.

As the whole population (except me) watch Eastenders, Coronation St, Emmerdale Farm, Casualty, Crossroads, and listen to the Archers, Mrs Dales Diary, Wilfred Pickles (I might be out of date) then as they all now have multi-ethnic multifaith LGBTW story lines thrust upon them to accord with modern thinking I totally agree – fraud, online scams, fake emails, rip off electricity prices, ARM closure…….would complete their social rôle and be a big improvement – I assume.

That is cynical, I know. However I do agree that making people aware of “real life” problems in the most popular programmes, if done with skill, would reach out to a large part of the population and have an impact on some.

I wonder if an Indesit drier had caught fire in Albert Square and a tragedy had resulted (burned down the Q Vic) whether this would have resulted in a more successful recall? It may well be also very useful to tap into popular programmes, like rugby, match of the day, snooker, with important bits of public information.

Lynda says:
4 April 2019

The banks should take more front-line responsibility in this to prevent fraud in the first place; they are the ones vigorously promoting online banking (to save on their costs). They are trusted to hold and safeguard our hard-earned finances; gain revenue from same and would soon lose my business if they reneged on their contract. The banks have staff/departments dealing with fraud; why should it fall on our overstretched police force to investigate! There should be a more co-ordinated effort but the Police either need more resources or support and should only be involved at prosecution stage.

Why don’t the BBC and ITV just put up warnings against these scam between programmes. Only needs to last 30 to 60 seconds. Warning about cold calling for e.g HMRC Pension Investment, Internet security etc. I get these calls several times a month. ( I like to string them along) .

We are experiencing several calls per week purporting to be from BT. This is a scam and having nearly being caught out by the same “b…s” 2 years ago- I even attempted to alert BT and Action Fraud without any success (got to be a BT customer-here we go).
Scammers use BT logo and evencorrect phone numbers to lead you into their trap.

I wonder how effective Neighbourhood Watch are in combating fraud by helping vulnerable people? I wasn’t aware they had this role.

“This is a message from *** Neighbourhood Watch
Please come along to the Fightback Against Fraud workshops on **

These workshops have been planned by the Neighbourhood Watch Network, the national body for Neighbourhood Watch, as part of the Communities that Care project. The project aims to make sure that all older people in the ***area have access to community-based support from trusted local people that enables them to protect themselves against fraudsters and helps to make them much less likely to become victims of these distressing crimes. This adds to the existing schedule of Cons, Scams, & Cyber-crime Awareness meetings that have been held in recent months across most of the district.

Friends Against Scams feature strongly in these meetings. Their ambition is to recruit more people to help spread the word in preventing the vast array of cons & scams that exist today and for those people to provide support to help protect those in our midst who may be regarded as vulnerable.

So, do try to come along and learn more on how you can help. Don’t forget that cons & scams usually amount to fraud or attempted fraud, which are very serious crimes with potentially devastating results for the victims.

Malcolm: the text in that message reveals your (imprecise) geographical location. It appears it’s only being offered to one area.

Mine certainly came from our local police authority (covers a big area). It may be local but I wonder how successful it might be and, if so, rolled out nationally?

It’s more or less what I’ve suggested, but coupled with a media-designed education programme. Could be very useful, if done in workshop style.

Having experienced it myself, I know how devastating it could be to anyone who experiences it and would like to see more resources put in to reduce to incidence of this crime to its lowest possible level. I was fortunate to be reimbursed by the bank with the help of Action Fraud but it took some time to be completed

This is a multi million pound 'industry'. These are crimes committed by criminals who ought to be sought and prosecuted by the police forces with the specific statutory assistance of banking and other associated bodies. It is not acceptable for this criminal scum to rip apart the lives of thousands of families whose only fault is that they, in good faith, believed a false communication from greedy criminals. Those criminals' only motive is to defraud and steal huge amounts of money from vulnerable people.
This state of affairs is rediculous and totally unacceptable. A previous home secretary removed in the region of 30% of police budgets at a time when budgets should have been increased by that sum to try and deal with this and the other two scourges which have descended on our society, terrorism and sexual crimes. This financial cost is huge for us to support the police in developing a whole new specialism to fight this tsunami of financial crime. However do we want to allow these contemptible criminals to win as they do presently? Come on responsible people. Get out of your comfort zones and tell everyone including your pathetically indecisive politicians. You will no longer put up with this abuse of your freedom and way of life.

[This post has been edited to remove all caps. Please see the community guidelines for more information https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines ]

Ian Ramsay says:
5 April 2019

This has obviously taken over from physical burglary costing massive loses to individuals. Because we have all been encouraged to have bank accounts and conduct our affairs online all official agencies must get heavily involved. These activities are criminal scams.

Action Fraud has a very poor success record. I have no feeling for whether the service is poor or if there are now so many scams that even those of us who have not been scammed so far could be at risk. It’s high time that there was an independent enquiry, perhaps looking at cases where no action has been achieved through Action Fraud.

Jennifer Jarvis says:
5 April 2019

Yes the police and the banks should take these scams more seriously. They are theft by fraud and have serious consequences for those affected. People are left without any money to carry on with their day to day living expenses. We are continuously pressured by banks to commit to on line banking. We are told how much easier it would be for us, and given tempting offers to switch banks to one’s which are only accessible on line. I refuse to do on line banking. I will not even bank at an establishment which does not have a bank in my town which I can visit to bank and discuss any problems I have with my account.

Having had three cards blocked and replaced this year I am seriously worried about this fraud. The Banks seem to take it in their stride without much attempt to track down those who scam us.