Online scams a ‘thought after’ for crime agencies, MPs say

MPs have accused ministers and law enforcement agencies of treating economic crime as an “afterthought” and called on the government to devote more resources to tackling the “epidemic of fraud” in the UK Great Britain.

The focus on “traditional” crime, “confused” accountability lines and court delays have left the justice system “unequipped” to deal with the growing wave of fraud. increased, according to a House Judiciary select committee report released Tuesday. .

The report comes as the UK is grappling with a sharp rise in digital financial crime in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as more people spend more time on the internet.

Online fraud cases reported increase by a third April 2020 to March 2021 according to UK police analysis What consumer group fraud data? As a result, the victim lost more than 2.3 billion pounds.

Criminals have adapted their methods during the Covid crisis to exploit victims’ fear of the coronavirus. They are now turning their attention to the cost of living crisis. Scam mentions six of UK’s biggest energy companies 10 percent increase year-over-year in the first quarter of 2022, according to online security firm McAfee.

Sir Bob Neil MP, chairman of the judiciary committee, said: “Fraud currently accounts for 40% of crime and the number is growing. People are losing their life savings and suffering lasting emotional and psychological harm. But the level of interest from law enforcement did not meet the requirements.

He added: “The prevention, investigation and prosecution of fraud seems to be the last resort, the last in the queue for resources, oversight and even court time.

The commission found that only 2% of police funding is spent fighting fraud, even though it accounts for 40% of reported crimes. Only 380 officers out of 20,000 new employees recruited in 2023 will be devoted to tackling fraud, it said.

The Committee advocates the creation of new economic crime courts to deal with fraud including cybercrime as a way to reduce the court backlog.

Backlog of crown court cases jumped to 61,212 in August from 60,380 in July, according to the Justice Department. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the backlog stood at 40,000.

The government has included plans to open a flagship economic crime court in central London in its latest economic crime scheme but the committee said such courtrooms should be rolled out across the UK. Great Britain, if successful.

The commission said the failure of government and law enforcement to prioritize economic crime was due to a lack of local or regional data on fraud, meaning police were not held accountable for their actions. , the committee said.

The committee criticized Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime, for its inadequate response to victims, with some calling the body “an empty pit”. bottom”.

“Action Fraud has proven not to be fit for purpose, and while an alternative reporting system is expected by 2024, victims do not have to wait long to see improvements in the service they receive. ,” the pledge said.

However, it added, Action Fraud “despite its flaws” has played an important role in solving crime and its successor should be better resourced.

The government said it remained “absolutely committed to cracking down on shameless scammers stealing cash from hard-working families”.

“Our upcoming fraud strategy will look at all the tools that may be needed to track down fraudsters and protect those most vulnerable to crime,” it added.

The government said it will introduce a new, “user-friendly” website and reporting tool. . . provide an improved experience for victims” by early 2023.

Assistant Commissioner Peter O’Doherty of the City of London police said Action Fraud was the first national system to report fraud anywhere in the world. “There is a central national system that allows us to see the whole picture and aggregate all the information available to us,” he said.


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