Covid pandemic and fraud epidemic

Tamlyn Edmonds joined Paul Lewis and Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, NCA to discuss the continued growth of fraud, which now accounts for a third of all crime in England and Wales, on the BBC’s Money Box.[1]

Fraud is now the single most reported crime In England and Wales. That less than 1% of law enforcement is dedicated to counter it is difficult to comprehend, when considered that it costs the UK economy tens of billions of pounds every year.

Tamlyn Edmonds explained the use of ‘classic social engineering tricks’ and ‘reverse psychology’ used by fraudsters to build their victims’ trust. In the example of banking fraud discussed, a victim was led to believe that two fake direct debits had been illegally set up on her account and was tricked by the fraudster, posing as a bank employee, to give access to her bank account. Tamlyn Edmonds warned of the use of spoof bank details and text messages by sophisticated fraudsters to distract from suspicion; the victim is led to believe that contact from the bank is legitimate. Once they believe that the security of their account has been compromised, the calm, well-spoken and friendly fraudsters capitalise on the anxiety and distress of their victims to defraud them. Tamlyn Edmonds offers simple and effective advice:

If you receive a call from anyone that says they are from your bank, just say ‘thank you very much’ and put the phone down. Ideally call [your bank] from another phone using the number on the back of your debit card. Never ever give any information to anyone who says they are from your bank without making that call yourself.

Graeme Biggar expressed that he is ‘entirely unsatisfied with performance’ against fraud across law enforcement, acknowledging ‘we have to do better’. A sentiment undoubtably shared by the victims of fraud who are so often denied justice by way of an investigation and prosecution of the fraudsters responsible. The increased use of the internet and online banking are examples attributed to the increase in the number of reported frauds.

The mental and emotional impact of fraud on its victims is of course devastating. Often plagued by a sense of guilt, violation of privacy and loss of trust, Tamlyn Edmonds advises heightened awareness and importantly reminds victims that it is not their fault.

[1] Saturday 25th July at 12:00; https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000l754

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