Feeds

Internet fraud slips through police fingers, says Attorney General

Report calls for coordinated clampdown

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Internet fraud accounts for eight per cent of all fraud in the UK, according to the Attorney General's office, which says that fraud costs the UK billions of pounds every year.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has published the final report of his fraud review and has found that internet fraud can sometimes slip through current policing procedures and cost users and businesses dearly.

"It is often confusing for victims to know who to report the fraud to, particularly if it crosses geographical or sectoral boundaries," said the report. "Fraudsters benefit from this lack of continuity of response. Internet fraud is a particularly good example of how a fraud can become difficult to report."

Goldsmith has proposed the formation of a National Fraud Strategic Authority and a lead police force to tackle fraud on a national scale. He also proposes setting up a National Fraud Reporting Centre.

"Fraud is not a victimless crime," said Goldsmith in his introduction to the report. "Work by the Home Office suggests that fraud may be second only to Class A drug trafficking as a source of harm from crime; and there is evidence that fraud funds terrorism, drugs and people trafficking."

Goldsmith found that several other countries, most notably the US, have adopted more co-ordinated approaches to detecting and preventing internet fraud.

The Internet Crime Complaints Centre (IC3W), a partnership between the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Centre, is one organisation the report held up as an example of good practice.

"It is specifically designed to accept reports of people who have been defrauded over the internet, a problem which is particularly difficult to solve with geographical reporting arrangements. IC3W provides an analytical function and informs FBI work, and is linked to the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance which tackles internet and high-tech crime.

"The internet has provided new opportunities for fraud to be committed and it is now a significant problem for both businesses and individuals," said David Woods, an associate and litigation expert with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. "The current system has made it difficult to co-ordinate efforts among the various law enforcement agencies to effectively tackle fraud, and it is a welcome development to see a renewed focus on seeking to deal with this problem."

Internet fraud is certainly affecting the UK. The 2002/2003 British Crime Survey analysed technology crime and found that three quarters of respondents were worried about using a credit card online. The Attorney General's report found that the costs of this kind of fraud were not always the obvious costs.

"Externalities are costs or benefits from activities which affect behaviour but are not fully reflected in prices," said the report. "The reluctance of some people to use the internet for financial transactions because of fear of fraud even though they would save money on the transaction by doing so is an example of an externality."

Goldsmith said the best way to stop fraud was for consumers and businesses to act sensibly. "The review is clear that much fraud could be avoided if consumers, businesses, and public sector bodies took elementary precautions and, in appropriate circumstances, exercised sensible scepticism about offers that were obviously too good to be true."

See: The report (378 pages, 3.4MB PDF)

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.