NEWS

United Kingdom Launches Fraud Strategy

By Matthew Harwood

The British government launched its three-year National Fraud Strategy today to help stamp out rampant fraud, which is said to cost the country approximately $25.6 billion a year.

Among the initiatives included in the strategy are a National Fraud Reporting Center, where victims of fraud can report the crime, and measures to compensate victims of various fraud schemes.

The BBC has more:

Sandra Quinn, chief executive of the National Fraud Strategic Authority, said that at the moment there was nowhere central for people to go and report fraud.

"People will be able to call or e-mail the centre which will also receive information from businesses including banks," she said.

"There is a lot of organised fraud out there and often it is reasonably small amounts of money but it's being done thousands of times."

She added that crown courts would be given extra powers - including the ability to bar solicitors and estate agents from working if they have been convicted of fraud.

But not everyone's happy with the details of the strategy, according to the Register.

Ross Anderson, professor in security engineering at the University of Cambridge, blogged that  the Reporting Center would be established within the City of London Police department, working alongside the national Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit. That, he argued, will benefit the banking industry at the expense of consumers, because The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime unit is financed by the Association for Payment Clearing Services, which represents the country's payment card industry.

Calling the arrangement "more worthy of Uzbekistan than of Britain," Anderson explained the flaws of the idea.

"You have to ask how eager the City force will be to investigate offences that bankers don’t want investigated, such as the growing number of insider frauds and chip card cloning? And how vigorously will City cops investigate their paymasters for the fraud of claiming that their systems are secure, when they’re not, in order to avoid paying compensation to defrauded account holders?

"The purpose of the old system was to keep the fraud figures artificially low while enabling the banks to control such investigations as did take place. And what precisely has changed?

Anderson is a trenchant critic of how fraud costs are distributed in the United Kingdom. He says the banking industry holds customers' liable when they've been victimized by fraud " through unfair terms and conditions and 'false claims about system security.'"

Echoing the populist rage at banks spreading throughout the United States and Europe, he wrote "The lessons of the credit crunch just don’t seem to have sunk in yet. The government just can’t kick the habit of kowtowing to bankers."

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