The cost of living could be the next frontline for scammers, warns the head of the UK’s expert police unit for fraud, as criminals use the crisis as a way to lure potential victims.
DCI Gary Robinson, head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), said he thought fraudsters could use financial looting to persuade people to hand over their personal details.
“The next thing I can guess is that the perpetrators use the cost of the crisis in the lives of socio-engineers – they can send messages of concessions on gas and electricity and play on the vulnerabilities of the people,” he said.
Robinson was speaking to the Guardian when DCPCU marked its 20th anniversary and was ready to release figures showing that 2021 was a record year for counterfeiting.
The unit, which is funded by the finance industry and consists of members of the banking industry along with officers from the city and metropolitan police forces, blocked অপরাধ 101m worth of crime last year in an operation targeting gangs. Investigations into scams and fraud involving bank customers have led to the arrest of 123 people and disrupted the activities of 23 organized criminal gangs.
Since the epidemic began, fraudsters have used various themes in text and email to force people to click on links and provide details, which were later used to persuade people to transfer money from their accounts.
“Fraudsters keep going over time – whatever the current trend, they keep going,” Robinson said. “Through the epidemic we started with vaccines, then we went to tax rebates because people were working from home, then came back to vaccines, then delivery scams when people were shopping online. Then we saw an increase in romance scandals because people were lonely at home. “
The unit’s work has resulted in a number of convictions related to the Covid scandal, including one involving the NHS sending texts claiming to have collected victims’ details.
For prevention, the £ 101m figure is based on the estimated value of a crime that would have occurred if the unit had not seized data or equipment such as personal data and devices containing card skimming equipment.
Robinson said the unit has benefited from increased support from telecom and social media to track criminals who have become increasingly dependent on technology to find their victims. “Years ago we executed a warrant and when we entered the property there would be an old style filing cabinet that you would take out and find stolen cards and counterfeit checks,” he said. “Things happen now in a faceless way.”
The level of fraud increased during the epidemic, and last year UK Finance reported that মাত্র 754m had been stolen from bank customers in just six months.
Robinson said the lawsuits filed by the unit, which focused on the organized crime cycle behind the fraud, took time to work due to the scale of the fraudsters’ operations.
“Our desire is not just to get rid of low-level criminals, but to get to the top of the tree,” he said. The shared intelligence from the unit and its 20 years of experience made it possible.
Although some of the crimes involved bank insiders, probably set up by organized gangs, many involved fraudsters pretend to be fraudsters of banks and building societies.
Robinson said his work alerted him to the calls he received. “My bank called me the other day about a transaction and my initial thought was: ‘Is this my bank?'” He said. Instead of answering directly, he said he always stopped and checked first. “It’s okay for them to reject, reject or ignore any request. Criminals will try to rush you, but your bank or the police will not. ”