Text and online scammers targeted in government’s £30m crackdown


New strategy sees 400 investigators join Britain’s new National Fraud Squad

Text and online scammers are targeted by a new government-backed fraud squad made up of 400 elite investigators.

The information-driven sector will be part of a £30m counterattack against fraudsters, aimed at blocking fraudulent communications at their source and delaying payments to questionable banks.

The new fraud strategy announced by Home Secretary Suera Braverman on Wednesday includes a ban on cold calls for all financial products, such as those related to insurance and fake cryptocurrency schemes.

It also plans to work with Ofcom to further crack down on number ‘spoofing’ using new technology so scammers can’t spoof legitimate UK phone numbers.

So-called “sim farms,” which scammers use to send mass text scams, are also in government sights with plans to ban the devices and methods used by scammers.

Banks can also delay processing payments longer so that suspicious payments can be investigated under the new scheme.

The new system will replace Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting center, and provide an “easier route” for reporting fraud online, according to the government.

Victims can report crimes through an online portal and are provided with case updates and progress.

The Home Office said the improved service will allow victims’ reports to be handled more effectively.

anti-fraud champion

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the plan and said the government was committed to combating fraud to scammers.

“Scammers can ruin lives in seconds, cheating people in the meanest way to make their own money,” he said.

“We will fight these scammers wherever they try to hide.

“Blocking fraud at the root, better protecting people and stepping up enforcement will stop these heartless crimes from happening in the first place and ensure justice is done.”

The Home Office said law enforcement had been delegated, but measures agreed with industry would benefit Britain as a whole.

It said it would continue to ensure that collective issues were dealt with collectively to keep the UK resilient to fraud.

Braverman said it was “essential” to adopt a new approach to confronting criminals who deceive the public.

“Scams are hitting our country with ruthless criminals defrauding British citizens out of their hard-earned cash,” she said.

“They abuse people’s trust, steal their savings, destroy their confidence, make them feel vulnerable, and promote serious organized crime and terrorism.

“In the meantime, scammers are adapting and using new technology to prey on more victims.

“It’s important to adopt a new approach to this threat.”

Braverman said the fraud strategy will enable governments, law enforcement, industry and international partners to track criminals, intercept fraud and bring them to justice.

A new anti-fraud champion, Anthony Brown MP, was also appointed.

Browne said the technology sector, telcos and financial services companies “should be responsible for protecting users” by stopping fraud from happening in the first place, and should work together to “design” fraud. .

A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Ethereum can be seen among representations of other cryptocurrencies in this diagram. (World Spectrum/Pixabay)

Criticism of the crackdown

But the newly announced strategy has been described by opposition politicians as “too little, too late”.

Shadow Interior Secretary Yvette Cooper said the crackdown was “not commensurate with the scale of the problem.”

“All the Interior Secretary has provided is the rebadging of the existing national team and a re-announcement of the replacement of action fraud from almost two years ago,” she said Wednesday.

Emily Thornbury of the Labor Party also criticized the government’s plan.

The Shadow Attorney General said: Defrauding the public seven years ago. ”

The government also said it is working with technology companies to make reporting online fraud as easy as possible, whether it’s fraudulent advertising or fake “celebrity endorsements.”

In 2021, the National Cyber ​​Security Center has removed over 730,000 websites that carry out celebrity scams.

Most often used in false advertising were Sir Richard Branson and consumer advocate Martin Lewis.

Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, described the measure as “a good first step in the right direction.”

He added:

“In the end, it’s all about committing enough resources to build a dam that will stop the floods. I hope that happens.”

Welcoming the government’s multi-million pound strategy, National Crime Agency Executive Director Graeme Biggar said: to justice. ”

City of London Police Commissioner Angela McLaren said she hoped the joint effort would mean better tracking down scammers and “reducing the devastating damage they cause”.

which one? Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy, said consumers will judge the success of this strategy by ultimately better fraud detection, prevention, support and remediation. .

Epoch Times photo
An undated file photo of Martin Lewis for MoneySavingExpert. (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

mastermind of fraud

Last year, British police announced they had helped stamp out an international scam that scammed more than 200,000 people.

The website iSpoof allowed criminals to spoof bank phone numbers and caller IDs, allowing scammers to swindle victims out of thousands and even millions of pounds. .

Victims lost tens of millions of pounds, and those running iSpoof earned £3.2 million ($3.88 million) in 20 months, according to the London Metropolitan Police.

Last month, the man believed to be the mastermind behind iSpoof pleaded guilty to the largest fraud probe in the history of the Metropolitan Police.

Tejay Fletcher of London’s Western Gateway has appeared before Southwark Crown Court and pleaded guilty to making or providing goods for use in fraud. Facilitate or assist in the commission of a crime; Possession of criminal property and transfer of criminal property.

He pleaded not guilty to three more crimes for which the judge ordered him to lie on file.

Fletcher took the leading role as website manager for most of the time iSpoof was in operation, generating a profit of at least £1.3m, making it by far the biggest profit.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office (CPS) intends to use the forfeiture procedure to prevent him from profiting from his crimes.

CPS Specialist Prosecutor Thomas Short said at the time:

“Fraud is a cunning crime, and the cost to many victims of this incident was not only financial, but also caused great emotional distress and devastation.

“I encourage anyone who believes they have been scammed to come forward and report it.

“CPS works closely with law enforcement to bring fraudsters like Fletcher to justice. We hope today’s convictions send a strong message to criminals that they can no longer hide in online anonymity.” I have.”

Fletcher is expected to be sentenced later this month.

PA Media contributed to this report.