Joining up the fight against on-line fraud - London is serious. Is Westminster?

On Thursday the Lord Mayor of London, hosted the launch of Fighting Fraud Together. The press release correctly states that this is the first time government, industry representatives, voluntary groups and law enforcement agencies have joined together on a large scale to sign a joint commitment to tackle fraud, expanding and extending the successful activities that exist in different sectors and sharing fraud intelligence to prevent and disrupt the activities of fraudsters.


The programme brings together the Attorney General’s Office, BIS, Cabinet Office, DCLG, DWP, Home Office, HMRC, MoJ and HM Treasury as well ACPO, the Association of British Insurers, The British Bankers Association, the British Chambers of Commerce, the British Retail Consortium, the Building Societies Association, the Charity Commission, the Charity Finance Director’s Group, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the City of London Police, the Council of Mortgage lenders, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Federation of Small Businesses, Financial Fraud Action UK, the Financial Services Authority, the Fraud Advisory Panel, the Insurance Fraud Bureau, the Land Registry, the Law Society, the Metropolitan Police, National Council of Voluntary Organisations, the National Fraud Authority, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Serious Fraud Office, SOCA, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum, the UK Cards Association and Victim Support. With a fifty point action plan


That the launch was in the Ballroom of the Mansion House and not in Whitehall or the QE2 Centre says something about the relative status of the Cities of London and Westminster. This is for real – not just for show.


Fighting Fraud Together and its accompanying action plan place strong emphasis on preventing fraud through greater fraud awareness and self protection, combined with stronger government and industry prevention systems and controls. It also sets out a more effective approach to enforcement.


I was there because the Information Society Alliance (EURIM) groups on e-Crime and on Information and Identity Governance are addressing some of the key issues at the politicial levels, including bringing players together internationally. The groups provide first-stop-shops to join-up activities with those who are not working via the partners already involved in Fighting Fraud Together. 


Read the list of participants above and you will quickly realise that means most Information Society infrastructure and security suppliers, from those concerned to protect their own networks and data centres, to those supplying products and services to protect medium to large organisations. One of my retirement roles will be to help draw them in, including via the trade associations and professional bodies already in membership of the Alliance, such as the Federation of Communications, Intellect, BCS, ISACA, ISC2 and the ISSA.


In that context I particularly draw your attention to item 21 in the Fighting Fraud Together programme . The wording is opaque but it means organising co-operation across the boundaries of civil and criminal law, including internationally. This is central to the thinking behind the EURIM Information and Identity Governance Group, including the plans for taking a victims eye of electronic impersonation (including redress and recompense). The latter maps onto item 11 in the Fight Fraud Action plan. 


The multi-track approach, cutting across civil and criminal law and public and private sectors does, however, present very real difficulties for those whose mindsets were forged in law enforcement, public services or (dare I say it) the mainstream ICT industries. Hence the importance of the EURIM policy studies and scrutiny exercises that I have left to my successor, Dr Edward Phelps, and his team to progress. 


Please do not try to lobby me in my new role. Join EURIM and work together with your peers to help deliver the joined up policies we need in order to help use the £38 billion (see below where I quote the Lord Mayor’s opening remarks) being lost to fraud to help bring about economic recovery. 


And remember that the cost of joining EURIM is not just your subscription it is the time you put in to help get results – or if you want results but have not got time, the extra sponsorship you put up to help EURIM employ those who will help deliver them. I will blog shortly on the plans to use structured industry support for Masters Students at leading Universities as a cost-effective way of advancing thought on difficult issues.  It looks to be a low cost win-win all round (including for those seeking to assess potential recruits for key roles !!!)  



At the launch I asked Sir John Stuttard for permission to reproduce his remarks in this blog.

He had reminded us that, as Lord Mayor, he is Chief Magistrate of the City and one of the core functions of the Corporation of London is to ensure there are resources to maintain law and order in the Square Mile with a police force equipped to meet the challenges of policing a global financial centre.


“Fraud is a heinous crime that brings misery to countless thousands of people – young and old.  Fraud is estimated to cost the economy a staggering £38 billion every year – and to cost the financial services industry alone around £3.6 billion. 


Fraudsters don’t just target banks and other companies.  They cynically and callously exploit vulnerable elderly people on the doorsteps of their own homes. 


It is estimated that, each year, our tax authorities are defrauded to the tune of £15 billion a year.  How many hospitals and schools would that build? 


And financial fraud can be highly complex, using the latest technology, crossing national boundaries and jurisdictions. 


In whatever form we find it, fraud is crime, pure and simple. 


It blights the lives of everyone it touches. 


It limits the choices for Government.   


It squeezes the profits of business.


It risks our competitive advantage. 


Fraud sullies our hard won reputation for integrity and the probity in the way we conduct ourselves.  It impairs our reputation as the leading international financial centre. 


Tackling fraud successfully will always present challenges. 


But I was struck that the title of today’s conference and the titles of the first two sessions all contain the same key word – “Together”. 


We can beat the fraudster if we work together.  By utilising all the expertise and knowledge of the different criminal justice agencies, the private sector and City institutions, we can help crack this pernicious cancer. 


Each year, during overseas business visits Lord Mayors are often approached by Governors of Central Banks on how to combat fraud.  Advice and support is sought from the City Police in dealing with money laundering and other areas of fraud. 


So I am delighted that by these joint commitments, working together to detect and prevent fraud.  We are working together to disrupt the activities of criminals and to punish offenders.  We are working together to raise awareness amongst the public, to prevent crime and to enforce the law. 


So I am delighted that today we can host this conference here at the Mansion House in the heart of our successful City. 


We trust you will find even better ways of reducing the incidence of fraud and of apprehending offenders. 


I wish you all a successful and productive day.”


We did – my purpose in this blog is to invite you to join us and build on that success.