FOUR police forces in the midlands have joined a national scheme aimed at helping to tackle the growing problem of fraud, including internet related scams.
West Midlands, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, and West Mercia have all signed up to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre which acts as a central point of contact for all information about fraud and financially-motivated internet crime.
Individual police forces will continue to take reports of serious fraud and deal with cases where a crime in action or where the victim is particularly vulnerable.
Nationally, the National Fraud Authority estimates the loss to the UK economy from fraud is £73 billion. In 2011-12 there were 915 fraud and forgery offences reported to have occurred in Warwickshire but officers believe offences may be hugely under reported.
“We are increasingly seeing a growth in all sorts of fraud, from fairly basic, unsophisticated scams such as bogus websites to highly organised criminal gangs targeting vulnerable people.
“However, we believe we only see the tip of the iceberg and a lot of fraud goes unreported – something which we hope may change with the launch of Action Fraud,” said Detective Inspector Mark Davison, from Warwickshire Police.
“As well as looking for potential investigative leads, Action Fraud will act as a central intelligence unit, pulling together all reports of fraud aimed at identifying and disrupting organised crime teams.”
From now, instead of local officers taking crime reports of fraud themselves, they will redirect victims to Action Fraud where staff will take details over the phone or online.
Where a crime has taken place, it will be recorded and the victim given a national crime reference number.
Every day, details of all recorded crimes will be transferred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), run by City of London Police. There, all crimes and information reports will be collated and analysed to assess if there are any feasible lines of enquiry for follow up. Where there is, these will be sent to the relevant police force for further investigation.
Action Fraud is currently being rolled out across the country and all forces will sign up to it by March 2013. Run by the National Fraud Authority, with the NFIB as its partner, Action Fraud will provide numerous benefits including:
- A single point of contact for reporting all fraud
- Joined up intelligence which will lead to more targeted enforcement action
- An effective and time-efficient route to reporting fraud
- More opportunities to prevent fraud nationally
Additionally, it will free up officers’ time to focus only on actionable investigations, provide intelligence that can be used for preventative work, and create a standardised reporting system to ensure forces have a greater understanding and awareness of national threats.
“We believe that joining Action Fraud will provide victims of fraud with an enhanced service,” said Detective Inspector Mark Davison
“In serious fraud cases or where the victim is reporting a crime in action or is assessed to be vulnerable, we will continue to deal with reports as normal. But for all other such reports, the victim will be referred to Action Fraud.
“The new facility will provide victims with a single point of reference and will mean that our time can be spent more much productively, conducting actionable investigations and trying to prevent scams, rip-offs and cons in the first place.”
Action Fraud can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through the internet: www.actionfraud.police.uk. Hours of telephone operation are 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday. Internet reports can be made 24/7.