Most cases reported to National fraud centre ‘not investigated’

16 Aug 19

Staff working for the government-funded fraud reporting line mislead callers by saying their cases will be investigated when most are dismissed, an investigation by a national newspaper has suggested. 

A journalist from The Times went undercover at Action Fraud, the body set up to deal with reports of fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The newspaper said that most cases reported to the centre, funded by the Home Office, were dismissed, either by the call centre employees or by an algorithm.

Managers were recorded saying police try to avoid investigating fraud cases, and a training manager told staff not to give victims information on how their report was going to be treated.

The Times also said Action Fraud employees mocked victims as ‘psychos’ and ‘morons’. 

Fraud costs an estimated £190bn a year in the UK, and Action Fraud deals with more than 500,000 victims each year.

Last year, just 10,000 of the 270,000 crime reports Action Fraud filed led to a suspect being caught, according to The Times. 

The agency is overseen by City of London Police, but run by US firm Concentrix. The police force will now be investigating the claims in The Times

Commander Karen Baxter, national lead for economic crime at City of London police, said she is “personally leading the review” into the allegations.

She said: “The incidents he [the journalist] describes do not represent the standards of work and ethics we expect from anyone associated with the City of London Police.

“We will be carrying out an immediate examination of standards and requiring our agents to do the same.”

She said the “vast majority” of staff do a good job, and she hopes this will not dissuade members of the public from reporting fraud they have fallen victim to.

A spokesperson for Concentrix said four people had been suspended following The Times report.

She added: “We take these allegations extremely seriously and have launched an immediate investigation.

“A small number of isolated incidents have occurred which are not representative of our organisation and our values.”

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