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Credit card crime squad celebrates success

36,000 cards recovered, 171 felons cuffed

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A UK police squad dedicated to fighting out credit card fraud has recovered 36,000 cards and card details in its first two years of operation. The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) estimates it work has prevented £65m in fraudulent losses during its two year pilot.

The DCPCU was set up to in April 2002 to target the organised gangs who are responsible for the lion's share of the UK's card fraud losses, amounting to £402m in 2003. It has successfully prosecuted all kinds of card fraudsters but has particularly focused on the scams carried out by counterfeiting gangs who often run sophisticated factory-style operations. The squad's successes have also helped combat other more serious criminal activity such as the trade in drugs, illegal immigrants and counterfeit goods, which are often funded by card fraud profits.

In the two years up to April 2004, the unit made 171 arrests resulting in 52 convictions over the period.

DCPCU is made up of officers seconded from the City of London and Metropolitan Police forces, backed by banking intelligence and administrative support from the financial services industry. The squad is staffed by serving police officers jointly funded by the banking industry and the Home Office - a highly unusual arrangement. A report on DCPCU's activities was published yesterday along with news that it had secured an additional £3m in funding from UK banks that will allow it to continue its operations.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Thomas, from the City of London Police, who heads up the Unit, said: "This gratifying news is well-deserved considering the enormous successes of the past two years. Already we are building on that success; as almost every week since the end of the pilot we have had a number of successful raids and arrests.

"With more staff joining us in the near future I have no doubt that our track record of beating these criminals will not only be maintained but will be significantly improved. We are also keen to share what we have learnt with other forces so that they can enjoy the same results," he added. ®

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