Police forces in the UK are cutting the number of fraud and cyber-crime investigators as they face a £37 million black hole in law enforcement budgets, according to The Times.

Five police forces, West Yorkshire, West Midlands, Sussex, South Yorkshire and Cheshire, have cut the number of specialist investigators over the past two years, according to data obtained via a freedom of information request.

Apparently a secret presentation to police and crime commissioners by the National Crime Agency (NCA), also warns of glaring “operational gaps” in budgets for inquiries into serious and organised crime, including no specialist funding at all for cyber-crime after March 2019.
  • A record £500 million in the UJ was lost to fraud in the first six months of this year as criminals find ever more sophisticated ways to outsmart an already overstretched police force. 
  • About £145 million of the loss was a result of so-called “authorised” scams, where the victim sends funds to a criminal’s account believing they are following instructions from a bank, police or some other trustworthy source. 
  • Most cyber fraud crimes referred to Action Fraud, the central fraud reporting agency, are not investigated as they are dismissed by a computer algorithm, usually because they are under £10,000 and are not linked to known hacker groups.

It’s been apparent for some time that the police rarely investigate what they consider to be ‘small amount’ frauds because they are overstretched.

However, the fact that some forces are now cutting the number of cyber-crime investigators sends out a signal to victims that they may as well not bother reporting losses and to fraudsters that it’s open season.
  • Victims of “authorised” banking fraud are typically denied a refund unless the fraud is detected in time for the recipient bank to freeze funds before they are transferred elsewhere. 
  • However, Vocalink, a payments services firm that is part of Mastercard, said fraudulent funds are typically moved into 10 different accounts within 10 minutes of a transfer.

Lloyds bank said some scammer’s accounts it has detected were opened with valid identification and address documents.

However, there are already technologies available that can quickly identify whether documents are suspicious by tying them to other forms of ID. Why aren’t the banks using them?

If there’s a moral to this tale it’s that we all need to be extremely wary of requests to send money, even if they appear to be legitimate, for instance, from your bank, solicitor or other trusted source.

If the request for a money transfer includes new bank details the first thing to be done is contact the organisation in question, either by phone or even better in person, and verify whether the account details are indeed accurate or part of an elaborate scam.

You also wouldn’t go wrong by investing in BullGuard Premium Protection. This comes at fraud from a different angle by protecting all of your invaluable information including bank account numbers. It’s a critical component in throwing an anti-fraud net around your personal dealings.

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