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Online fraud hard to report, warns attorney general

Tash Shifrin

The UK’s response to internet fraud is hampered by geographical and sectoral boundaries between police forces and other authorities, the attorney general Lord Goldsmith has warned.

A review of fraud, published by the attorney general as part of a government overhaul of anti-fraud law, warns, “It is often confusing for victims to know who to report the fraud to, particularly if it crosses geographical or sectoral boundaries. 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.”

The report illustrates the problem with the example of “Mr Bogus” who advertises a computer on an auction website. When a successful bidder pays the £2,000 price but does not receive the machine, they complain “to the internet auction company, to the police and possibly also to trading standards authorities”.

But the report notes,“As Mr Bogus lives in a different police force area the police are reluctant to accept the report. It is a similar situation with trading standards.”

This means that the fraudster can repeat the fraud elsewhere. “The police and trading standards do not identify Mr Bogus as a repeat offender because the reports of fraud are either not accepted, or appear in different force areas,” the report warns.

The review makes a series of proposals for consultation, including the establishment of a National Fraud Strategic Authority and the creation of a National Fraud Reporting Centre based in a lead police force.

 

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