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LAW ENFORCEMENT

Investigation launched into
Action Fraud

The City of London Police, the force that oversees Action Fraud is launching an investigation after an undercover operation by The Times newspaper at its call handler training centre filmed one instructor telling raw recruits that police were ‘useless people’ who would do anything to avoid investigating fraud.

The report in The Times claims that hundreds of thousands of victims of crime are being failed by Action Fraud which takes their reports but dismisses all but the easiest to solve cases. It claims that suspects are not being pursued, allowing them to act with impunity.

The specific investigation will be into the training from outsourced provider Concentrix, which the report claims uses inexperienced call centre staff to make decisions on which cases will be passed through to the police to investigate.

Professor David Canter, one of the country’s foremost criminal psychologists, found Action Fraud to be “completely useless” after he had £18,000 stolen by scammers.

While trying to reclaim the money, he discovered the UK bank account details of the fraudsters and tried to report them to Action Fraud. He was told that it did not want the information and his case would not be passed on to police.

Two years ago, Professor Canter, 75, who has lectured on cyber-crime and helped police catch the serial killer John Duffy in the 1980s, was tricked into giving access to his computer by fraudsters who were pretending to be from BT.
After becoming suspicious he called a friend who works in IT and was told he was likely to have been scammed. In total, £18,000 had been taken from three of his bank accounts.

Professor Canter said: “The idea that such a huge amount of money had been taken from my accounts because of my own idiocy made me feel absolutely desperate. I had to fight to get the money back and can understand how people who do not succeed feel deeply depressed.”

When he called the police he was told to report his case to Action Fraud. He telephoned the service and was asked to fill out the details online. He had found the names and account details of the fraudsters in his accounts’ payment histories and kept the details as evidence. However, he said he was told not to include bank account details for the fraudsters and later received a letter that said there were no leads.

Professor Canter, who is emeritus professor at the University of Liverpool, did not know Action Fraud had been outsourced to a private company.

“Isn’t Action Fraud the police?” he asked The Times. “I assumed I was dealing with the police. It is outrageous that cases are not taken more seriously. By not even taking fraudsters’ bank account details, they cannot possibly find the networks behind these crimes.”

The matter has been referred to the City of London Police who said they took the undercover video evidence of the Concentrix training very seriously. The evidence was also raised with the Home Office.

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