Feeds

Prison terms for phishing fraudsters

England and Wales pass new Fraud Act

Security for virtualized datacentres

A new anti-fraud bill has been passed into law for England and Wales. The Fraud Act 2006 received Royal Assent last week and will come into force in early 2007.

The new law aims to close a number of loopholes in preceding anti-fraud legislation, which the government said was unsuited to modern fraud.

Until now there has been no single, general fraud law in English law, but an untidy mess of eight specific statutory crimes, such as "obtaining property by deception", and a vague common law offence of "conspiracy to defraud". Scotland does have a common law crime of fraud, committed when someone achieves a practical result by a false pretence.

The Fraud Act introduces a general offence of fraud which can be committed by false representation, by failing to disclose information, or by abuse of position. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment.

"The Act replaces the existing complicated array of over-specific and overlapping deception offences," said a Home Office statement. "These offences have proved inadequate to tackle the wide range of possible fraudulent activity today or keep pace with rapidly developing technology."

Struan Robertson, a technology lawyer with Pinsent Masons and editor of OUT-LAW.COM, said: "One perceived loophole in the old regime was the possession of computer files in preparation for launching a phishing attack."

This is where emails are sent in bulk, purporting to represent a well-known brand in the hope of sending victims to a bogus website that tricks them into disclosing bank account details. Such 'phishing kits' have been available on the internet but difficult to prosecute. "That loophole is closed by the new Act," said Robertson. "When it comes into force, possession of such any software or data for use in a fraud could result in a prison term of up to five years."

The Act also provides that writing software "knowing that it is designed or adapted for use in...connection with fraud" can result in a sentence of up to 10 years.

"The new Fraud Act will make an important contribution to the fight against fraud," said Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe. "It will remove the deficiencies in the existing provisions and establish an effective criminal law that is flexible enough to capture the true breadth of fraud today."

KPMG Forensic's Fraud Barometer reports that fraud levels in the UK are increasing dramatically. Fraud levels rose to their highest level in 10 years in 2005, to £900m that year. Already 2006 is proving worse, with £650m worth of fraud recorded in the first six months of the year, compared to £249m in the same period in 2005.

KPMG's barometer measures the fraud levels involved in court cases in the UK where the fraud under consideration is greater than £100,000.

Figures published this week by the UK payment card association APACS said that credit card fraud fell in the latest measured period, the first six months of 2005, from £219m to £209m. Online banking fraud increased from £14m to £22m in the same period, it said.

See: Fraud Act 2006 (17 page/112KB PDF)

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

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

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

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
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.