Fraud fight: Ian Dyson of the City of London Police
Fraud used to be seen as a ‘victimless’ crime. Make no mistake, at the City of London Police we have never agreed with that narrative.
And public opinion is now recognising the emotional – as well as financial – harm caused by this most prevalent of crimes.
The sad fact is that you are more likely to be the victim of fraud than any other type of crime.
And while the internet has brought a wealth of opportunities, it has also allowed fraud to flourish: the criminal can target people nationally and internationally, yet never have to look a victim in the eye.
Proceeds are then used to fund serious and organised crime gangs, allowing them to finance the sale of drugs, weapons and modern slavery.
City of London Police is policing’s National Lead Force for fraud. We work closely with partners and other law-enforcement agencies to provide a linked-up response to tackle it.
We host the national reporting centre, Action Fraud, which receives reports of fraud and cyber crime.
And we run the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), responsible for assessing these reports, linking similar ones and identifying viable lines of inquiry for police forces to investigate.
With more than 320,000 frauds reported to Action Fraud last year, police forces can’t investigate every one. But all reports matter in helping us to spot complex patterns.
In the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were more than 2,500 reports to Action Fraud and losses exceeded £8 million, mostly in online fraud.
We were able to identify more than 1,700 fraudulent telephone numbers, websites and email addresses that we could disrupt, saving many more people from becoming victims.
Working with the National Crime Agency and other police forces, City of London Police co-ordinated an operation on courier fraud at the beginning of the year, which has resulted in 100 arrests.
Anyone can be a victim of fraud, and no one should feel too embarrassed to report it; scams can be sophisticated and convincing.
If you receive an unsolicited call, email or text message, stop and think. Are you being asked for personal information or financial details?
If so, don’t respond. Only a criminal will try to rush you into making a decision.
And if you do fall victim please report it to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040 or action fraud.police.uk).