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Fraud Taskforce

A new Joint Fraud Taskforce will see Government, law enforcement and the banking sector in a new era of collaboration, it is claimed.

The Taskforce, announced by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, will include the City of London Police, National Crime Agency, Financial Fraud Action UK, the Bank of England, Cifas and the major banks.

At a roundtable attended by sector bodies and co-chaired by the Lord Mayor and the Home Secretary, members came together to sign a declaration of their commitment to tackling fraud.

However the ‘taskforce’ appears merely to bring together again some of the work by the National Fraud Authority, an executive agency of the Home Office, which was closed in March 2014 and its tasks split among other public bodies.

Theresa May, pictured, said: “Our economy relies on the financial system and everyone in this country benefits from its global success. But the scale and volume of financial activity also brings serious risks of economic crime and real opportunities for criminals to defraud hardworking taxpayers of their savings and earnings.

“Fraud shames our financial system. It undermines the credibility of the economy, ruins businesses and causes untold distress to people of all walks of life. For too long, there has been too little understanding of the problem and too great a reluctance to take steps to tackle it.

“I am delighted to officially launch the Joint Fraud Taskforce, which will bring the collective powers, systems and resources of banks, payment providers, police, wider law enforcement and regulators to bear on this threat.”

The work of the Taskforce will include:

– working to identify priorities and spot intelligence gaps and vulnerabilities.
– fast-tracking intelligence sharing between banks and law enforcement for a more co-ordinated approach to serious and organised crime gangs, including the creation of a new top ten most-wanted fraudsters.
– more identification of victims and potential victims, including national roll-out of intervention training for bank staff.
– finding out why victims fall prey to fraud and helping to raise awareness of the steps they can take to protect themselves.
– removing the weak links in systems and processes.

The new Commissioner of the City of London Police, Ian Dyson QPM said: “The City of London Police has learnt that the key to combating fraud is Government, law enforcement and business working together to not only bring criminals to justice but also design out the opportunities for them to commit crime in the first place.

“The Fraud Taskforce is key to this and brings a new impetus to the ongoing work we already do to protect victims and pursue criminals. Together we can make the UK a safer place and reduce the estimated £30 billion cost of fraud to the UK economy.”

Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays Personal & Corporate Banking , said: “Fraud leaves a devastating impact on people and businesses, which is why the UK’s banks are determined to stop these scammers and eradicate this crime. I welcome this new Joint Fraud Taskforce which will support even greater efforts by banks, police and government to combat these crimes together.

“At Barclays we believe even one fraud is one too many. Our role is to raise awareness of scams including through our current TV advertising campaign, and to help customers by arming them with knowledge on how to stay secure.”

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, operated by the City of London Police, is also helping to identify established and emerging frauds and those who are committing them. The authorities say that the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT), launched last year, has already had an impact on tackling high-end money laundering. JMLIT members have developed cases, identified and closed banks accounts, obtained 50 new court orders and made numerous arrests.

Comments

Matt Peachey, Vice President and General Manager, EMEA at the counter-fraud and authentication product company Pindrop, said: “The news that Home Secretary Theresa May is establishing an anti-fraud task force to crack down on fraud suspects should be welcomed whole-heartedly by financial organisations and enterprises. Recent research from the Office of National Statistics has shown that five million frauds occur every year across England and Wales, costing the UK around £26bn, and the government’s new initiative is a step in the right direction to tackling this issue. Unlike cyber security, which is well publicised at events such as Safer Internet Day, which took place this month, phone fraud is a topic which has lacked the same levels of attention. This has allowed fraudsters to benefit.

“We are all guilty of sharing too much information about ourselves online, whether this is our mother’s maiden name or date of birth, and fraudsters are using this data to create profiles that spoof businesses into thinking they are genuine customers. Techniques such as social engineering have become a popular route for fraud theft and those responsible are using this form of attack where they know businesses have their lowest defence in security –the phone.

“Phone security has traditionally been overlooked as organisations have focused instead on their cyber defences. While online security has matured in the last decade, with defences growing stronger and attacks becoming more sophisticated. Phone security has lacked the innovation, education and sophistication needed to protect customers. Without the right authentication and fraud detection in place, businesses will get duped. It is therefore crucial that organisations make phone, as well as internet safety, a priority.”

Simon Dukes of Cifas said: ‘”For too long fraud has been viewed as a victimless crime, however for businesses (especially smaller companies) and individuals there can be very real and devastating consequences. The government, law enforcement agencies and the financial industry must work together with organisations like Cifas to understand the full scale and threat of fraud to enable them to protect customers and effectively tackle the criminality. The Joint Fraud Taskforce is an important step towards combating a serious threat to both the UK’s finances and the lives of its citizens, and we welcome the focus it will bring.”

At the banking trade body the BBA, Chief Executive Anthony Browne said: “Tackling fraud is a top priority for the industry. Customers and businesses rightly expect high levels of security whether they bank online or in person.

“The Joint Taskforce demonstrates that banks, Government and law enforcement agencies are working closely together to combat financial crime. Fraudsters are constantly adopting new tactics so it is critical that we join forces to stop them ripping off individuals and businesses.

“The BBA will also shortly be launching a new Financial Crime Alerts Service, sharing real-time intelligence from law enforcement agencies with banks to help them combat financial crimes.”

John Lord, Managing Director at identity data intelligence company GBG believes sharing of data is a good thing. “As instances of fraud increase, so too does the butterfly effect of its occurrence – the implications that impact an individual or business long after the fraudulent activity has occurred or is discovered. Data transparency can be used incredibly effectively as a way of battling fraud. When data is shared freely between the public and private sectors, across geographical and political boundaries and amongst international bodies, a more accurate picture of global fraud patterns can be established. Those with malicious intent are not static individuals – they move around – and unless free-flowing access to real-time information is possible across multiple countries, their criminal history cannot be effectively tracked and they’re free to commit fraud again. In countries where there’s a restriction to data access, figures for fraud are higher. If everything is secret, how can anything be checked or corroborated? Being able to use accurate data to connect the dots, predict algorithms and identify behaviour patterns are all crucial to building out an intelligent view of fraud.”


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