Fraud is one of the most common crimes in England and Wales, accounting for more than 40% of all crimes, according to the National Crime Agency. To tackle this issue, the Government has recently launched the Fraud Strategy to set out a plan to stop fraud at the source and pursue those who are responsible for it.

The Fraud Strategy aims to reduce fraud by 10% on 2019 levels by 2025. There are 3 key elements in the strategy to tackle fraud:

  • Pursue Fraudsters – Government and law enforcement will pursue more people committing fraud and bring them to justice
  • Block Fraudsters – Government and industry will work together to stop fraud attempts
  • Empower the Public – The public will be provided with the tools and knowledge needed to empower them to recognise, avoid and report fraud when they encounter it

In addition to preventing fraud, the strategy further outlines the need to improve the support provided for victims of fraud.

What Does the Fraud Strategy Entail?

Starting last year, the Government made a £400 million investment to the police, and other agencies to combat economic crime. This investment includes £100 million specially dedicated to the improvement of law enforcement, the intelligence community and the criminal justice response in preventing fraud. The strategy itself contains over 50 actions in combatting fraud which are split into the 3 key elements of Pursue, Block and Empower.

Pursuing Fraudsters

As previously stated, £100 million was pledged to improve the agencies responsible for preventing fraud, with the aim of preventing 300,000 more cases of fraud from taking place by the end of 2024.

A new National Fraud Squad is also being created, with 400 investigators to take a proactive intelligence-led approach to fraud, focusing on high-end cases and organised crime. The squad will be jointly led by the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police. This will empower the actions already in place as part of the National Strategic Policing Requirements which has made fighting fraud a priority for all forces.

Blocking Fraud

Technology has increased the number of ways for criminals to target individuals with fake calls, texts and emails to defraud them. Regulating technology prevents this criminal abuse of devices. To target those who send thousands of scam messages via text, the Government has announced they will pass a ban on SIM farms. SIM farms are electronic boxes which can hold hundreds of SIM cards and are frequently used for fraudulent texts. However, banning them will not stop all fraudulent activity conducted via text and spoof calls as fraudsters will adapt tactics to meet these new challenges. Ofcom are monitoring the impact of the measures being implemented by the Government to help develop a more comprehensive solution to the challenges of fraudulent phone activity.

The Government has announced they will work with the tech industry to make sure intelligence is shared quickly with law enforcement to end fraudulent activity. All large tech companies have been asked to check that firms advertising financial investments on their platforms are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority to monitor the authenticity of the companies advertising with them and better protect users against fraud.

The Online Safety Bill and Fraud

Through the Online Safety Bill, internet users will be better protected from online scams and fraud adverts. The Bill will require social media and search services to put in place systems to tackle fraud where it is generated by search results or user-generated activity. In-scope platforms will also be required to work with Ofcom Codes of Practice to develop ways to prevent fraudulent adverts from appearing on their websites. Together, these duties will encourage internet platforms to take fraud more seriously, helping prevent fraud from happening and protecting users. These websites will further be incentivised to take the risk of fraud more seriously through the introduction of fines in the Bill for those who do not protect their customers.

Empowering the Public

Fraud is not a victimless crime. Millions of people, businesses and organisations are targeted by fraudsters across England and Wales every year. Empowering and supporting the public by educating them about fraud is a fundamental aspect in the fight against fraud.

The Government is pledging £30 million to turn Action Fraud into a new fraud reporting centre to improve the support victims of fraud receive. By simplifying the way people report fraud, the new centre works to minimise how often people have to relive the traumatic events they have experienced. The new centre works to support victims by making the reporting process easier and provides a portal to ensure they receive timely updates on their case progress.

A Summary of Other Measures Included in the Strategy

  • The Government is changing the law through the Financial Services and Markets Bill to help more fraud victims get their money back
  • A new anti-fraud champion has been announced to drive forward government work on fraud
  • A ban on cold calls regarding financial products
  • The streamlining of fraud communications to help people know how to report fraud

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Fraud is one of the most common crimes in England and Wales, with cases accounting for more than 40% of all crimes reported. This government update outlines some of the key points in the Fraud Strategy which aims to reduce the number of cases by 10% on 2019 levels before the beginning of 2025.

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