/ 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?

Roy Shaw says:
5 April 2019

It is important that folk check their bank payments. I was defrauded by someone who mysteriously got hold of my card numbers and was paying himself £49.99 a month but it looked as though the payments were to real companies. I spotted it only because some were to ‘O2’ and I don’t deal with them! The sums looked appropriate and the names looked real but they were not!

Any chance of a job in cyber crime because i would take it!! please !!🙏

ken says:
5 April 2019

Plenty of free courses on you tube you can be scamming people in minutes 🙁

Which? ask, in an email today “We are in the midst of a fraud epidemic and the need to tackle it is urgent. The government, police and banking industry must establish a more coordinated approach and make fraud a top priority.

The problem here is there are so many “top priorities” to consider so what needs to be shelved to make room for fraud? However, since it is the banks who operate the system and make their money from it (no criticism of that) I believe they should fund their own fraud investigation and mitigation unit to both reduce fraud by improving their systems, and to gather evidence when fraud has occurred that can support criminal prosecutions. They can then work with the police and the CPS to bring the perpetrators to book – if, of course, they lie within our jurisdiction.

They should also provide a coordinated educational campaign to make every customer aware of fraud techniques and how to avoid being scammed.

Roger Dawber says:
5 April 2019

I think you might be surprised by the amount of effort, and money, that the banks already put into this area. No doubt there’s scope for more (though the cost will, inevitably, have to be covered by customers) but they’re on a hiding to nowhere as long as the crooks know they won’t be investigated, much less caught.

According to the TV documentary on the work of the City of London police that I referred to recently, the banks actually pay the costs of the special section [the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit] that was set up by the police force to investigate fraud crimes and prosecute offenders.They don’t seem to be restricted to their own policing district and will pursue criminals anywhere in the country [in cooperation with the local constabulary].

I think more resources need to go into solving this problem but I accept it is not necessarily a ‘top priority’ like terrorism. In particular, I think more might be done to follow up attempted fraud where cold callers are clearly scammers seeking money (or to install malware on computers), and do not get money but are a major nuisance, and could be traced with prompt action. In recent weeks, we have twice had such callers who just called back repeatedly after the phone was ‘put down’ on them.

From the posts here though it not appear that system is working?

Terry Gabriel says:
5 April 2019

The banking industry exacerbates the problem. As a victim of a recent debit card fraud I have highlighted a problem that only makes matters worse. I don’t know how my debit card was compromised, but my bank cancelled my debit card and issued a new one which I received within 3 days. My loss was re funded by the bank without question. It seems that the crook involved not only bought him/herself a lap top but also signed up with Netflix with my old debit card number. Netflix require a card number and details of the customer to set up an account. They provide a months free trial after which a monthly subscription is charged to the card used to set up the Netflix account. By the time the monthly Netflix subscription was due, my new card had already been issued. The bank provided my new card details to Netflix, even though I have never done business with them, and did so without my knowledge or consent. It seems that where you have signed up to a monthly on line subscription, if you change your card details for any reason your new card details are automatically passed on the subscription provider. I reported this to the banking ombudsman and was told it was Visa Europe’s responsibility. I reported it to Visa Europe and they said it was the banks responsibility. The original fraud transaction was with a company in Sheffield. I reported to South Yorkshire police and they said report it to my local police who can then request south Yorkshire make an enquiry. My local police told me to report it Action fraud. I was given the run around at every turn. This case was potentially detectable. The Sheffield company told me they had identified the fraudulent transaction. They knew the name given , what was purchased, what the delivery address was and who the courier was. Netflix likewise had all the customer information provided when the account was set up. Valuable intelligence that might have led to identifying the criminal scum responsible for this and probably dozens of other cases was there for the taking. But could I get anyone interested in doing something?

Onedin says:
5 April 2019

Friends of mine lost over £40,000 in a house-purchase e-mail fraud. Their case was even reported in Which magazine. This was about three years ago, and after involvement from the Police, their Bank, their Solicitor, and the Ombudsman, they have never received full refund or compensation. It appears that the Bank was not prepared to accept responsibility for their own shocking lack of “Due Diligence”, and the fraudster has long since left the UK. The Police found themselves, after the criminal investigation, in a relatively powerless position. I don’t feel the Police could have done more in this particular example. Indeed I would much prefer to see stronger legislation around “responsibility” if a major Bank demonstrates very sloppy professional practice, and then wriggles out of its duty to loyal customers.

Roger Dawber says:
5 April 2019

I’m very disappointed with Which’s naive, simplistic, “soundbite” approach here. I agree absolutely that tackling fraud should be a priority and the statistics relating to reporting and detection are nothing short of scandalous. What is wrong, however, is the proposition that fraud should be a “top priority”. If we prioritise fraud that means, automatically, de-prioritising something else. What should we de-prioritise? Local policing? Street crime? Domestic violence? Counter-terrorism? Traffic policing (already reduced to little more than a lot of indiscriminate cameras)? Or any number of less mainstream activities that take up, collectively, a material proportion of police time? The only way to avoid reducing the effort put into these other important aspects of crime would be to increase police resourcing. Certainly, focus on co-ordinating effort between the police, government and relevant industries, particularly as regards engaging people with the IT expertise that this area demands. But the problem is fundamentally that the police are under-resourced, largely because politicians are too frightened to say that policing costs money and if we want better public services it will cost more in taxes. And as long as the current situation prevails, so that fraudsters know that there is scant likelihood of their being caught (or even mildly inconvenienced !), the worse the problem will get.

Graham Hunter says:
5 April 2019

Yes defineately. Nearly got scammed myself.
Reported to Action Fraud, took months to be told it was in hands of West Midlands Police and Trading Standards.
No crime reference number given. Never heard any more.
Kept all the evidence as requested.

Basically and essentially, like most jobs, too many, repeat are just NOT pulling their weight with Wrong attitude or approaches !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dranreb says:
5 April 2019

the police only seem to get involved if the sums involved are in six figures

I cannot agree. I am one of about 150 victims and between us we have lost £10.5M to a financial fraud. Action Fraud and the police force in Surrey & Sussex have let us down by declining to investigate because they do not have the resources or finance to do so. We are appealing again to Action Fraud and our MPs.

Police are not effective and efficient in dealing with crimes and fraud. Unless these two aspects are improved, no extra funding to police will work.

M wilson says:
5 April 2019

Yes I was scammed . Some one posing as a PC.. lost nearly £5000/- bank reimbursed me I lost £ 750/-

Ariff says:
5 April 2019

I have been the victim of fraud on at least two occasions the most recent for a considerable sum is still under investigation so I will not comment in detail on that. Suffice it to say that Action Fraud do nothing for the individual – they are merely an intelligence gathering organisation on behalf of the police. Neither will the police themselves do anything for the individual victim in terms of retrieving losses. But the first case was very simple. Someone copied details of a vehicle and posted the details as if it were his car. He then asked for a deposit before I could go and see the vehicle which he urged I do quickly due to the high level of interest in that car. Sensing it was a scam (and later finding the original advertisement), I reported the ‘theft’ to my bank. This took almost two hours of explanation on a Friday evening. The bank then took no action and later claimed that they had been unable to contact the bank used by the fraudster. This was on the following Wednesday. Obviously in a case of this nature time is a major factor. I went onto that other bank’s web site and left a message for them and they then contacted me and were able to resolve the issue and return my money. If I were able to make contact so simply why was my own bank unable to do so? One would have thought they would have a coordinated network to deal with these issues because it must be costing the banking industry a fortune. Not only that but the other bank in Belfast (naming no names) must also have had the perpetrators details and I had already given a name to the police and the banks yet to my knowledge no action was taken against this person who could go on and do yet more serious damage. As it was I was very fortunate that the man was either stupid or very inept because he could have drawn all of the money and moved it elsewhere in the time it took the banks to act. As it was he had drawn about £25 which of course I lost. Until the banks and the police (and government) get their act together there is just no deterrent for this type of theft and I begin to wonder why we don’t all do it – it is so easy and one could make a fortune with absolutely no fear of reprisals!

I work in IT and have battled with computer viruses at the NHS. It took away all the time to spend on normal duties such as repairs and installations on the wards, or in A&E. I’m starting to think we should go back to paper money, and shops on the high street. If these shops also sell goods that last it will avoid landfill, cut out polution caused by do many deliveries, and save on resources as well. Back to the old ways and old days.Fraud wasn’t very common then.

Anon says:
5 April 2019

I work in the insurance industry and I know from personal experience how difficult it is to get the authorities to prosecute even when the information is handed to them on the proverbial plate.

The delivery companies help perpetuate fraud by re-directing “failed” deliveries to the correct address for a stolen card, … straight into the hands of fraudsters. The police should work with them to manage this …

Someone got hold of my paypal details recently (dodgy html link) and made 3x unauthorised transactions totalling £750. I logged into paypal, and was told my account had been (rightly) frozen due to suspicious activity. Logged a dispute, which didn’t seem to appear, logged another dispute, which appeared. had a promising reply from a non-manned email address the next morning, which didn’t quite coincide with what I was seeing. Found a paypal phone number and actually managed to talk to a paypal employee [in Ireland] over the phone, who was very helpful. 2 weeks later and it was sorted.

credit to paypal, their processes worked. paypal _really_ should give you a direct email address/phone number to get in contact with them. they don’t give you an email address, which makes it harder/less possible to co ordinate information with the police/bank.

contacted the police, who gave me the name of a company called ‘Action Fraud’, who I’m told specifically deal with electronic & ID theft. sent them the details of my case approx 1 month ago via online form, and haven’t heard from them since.

As I said before, fraud is nothing new:

From the Guardian

The first banknote was, she thinks, produced in 1694, the year the Bank of England was founded. They were bigger than notes today, all were handwritten and could be of any denomination. The first forgeries appeared within six months, resulting in watermarks being introduced as security devices.

Fraud could happen to you and your parents especially if they’re not so sure about banks are being truthful to your ageing parents. Now we might know what to look for when someone is trying to scam us. But the elderly people don’t have any clues that there are unscrupulous people who just want other people’s money.

I think the problem here is that each party, the police and banks, both leave is to the other to deal with any issue you might raise with them. It is high time that the banks were required to recompense customers who have been swindled with a minimum of fuss and anxiety being heaped on the victim. The police are surely required by statute to deal with a crime and should therefore take the matter up with the utmost vigour. Perhaps we need a dedicated financial arm of the police for these crimes, not the half-hearted Action Fraud which perhaps needs re-titling Inaction Fraud for all the use they are. If I am subjected to a fraud then I should report it to both my bank and to my local police force with both issuing me with a reference to give to the other for the matter to be tied together. I should be able, on a weekly basis to demand of the police an update of where the matter has got to. The banks also have a responsibility to take seriously the issue of fraudsters being able, without the proper checks, to establish their own bank accounts. It is too easy for the banks to allow fraudsters to set up accounts without subjecting them to the most rigorous and intrusive questioning as they do with me when I try to start a new account. Perhaps the problem for the banks with me is that I was born here, of British parents and grandparents and ancestors going back to the 16th century and have paid taxes all my life.

What really gets me is that if I walked into a bank with a sawn-off shotgun, the cops would turn up mob handed with armed officers, negotiators, general plods, traffic cops and goodness what else.
Now we have cyber crime and everybody from the cops to the banks themselves literally wash their hands of it. Both are meant to protect our money -they have a duty of care, but what do we read about today on social media (06/04/2019) but having air freshners attached to your rearview mirror could lead to you being charged.

What really gets me is that if I walked into a bank with a sawn-off shotgun, the cops would turn up mob handed with armed officers, negotiators, general plods, traffic cops and goodness what else.
Now we have cyber crime and everybody from the cops to the banks themselves literally wash their hands of it. Both are meant to protect our money -they have a duty of care, but what do we read about today on social media (06/04/2019) but having air freshners attached to your rearview mirror could lead to you being charged.

I guess it is far easier to nick someone for inappropriate furry dice than it is to even track down cyber criminals.