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Action Fraud under attack after newspaper report

Written by: Emma Lunn
The police-run service is accused of misleading fraud victims into thinking their cases will be investigated – when most are never looked at again.

Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, has been heavily criticised for the way it treats the victims of fraud.

The Times sent an undercover reporter to work at Concentrix which runs Action Fraud’s day-to-day operations. The reporter found that victims were routinely mocked and called “morons” and “screwballs” by low-wage call centre staff pretending to be police officers.

Staff were banned from telling victims that the majority of their cases were dismissed, instead giving the impression that their case would be investigated further.

Call-centre employees chose whether a victim’s case was filed as a crime report or the less serious information report, which was unlikely to receive a follow-up. The Times said crime reports were likely to be passed to fraud investigators only if there was a high chance of a suspect being caught.

In 2018 there were an estimated 3.6 million incidents of fraud but as few as one in 50 fraud cases lead to a suspect being caught.

Action Fraud is run by the City of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), but its call centre has been outsourced to a call centre in Glasgow which employs staff with minimal training on £8.50 an hour. The Times reported that staff admitted to being drunk at work and falling asleep on calls.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which? said: “These reports will be very worrying for people who have been victims of fraud. Too often, victims are left feeling abandoned and confused as investigations drag on with little sign of progress. Our own research estimates only one in 20 cases reported to Action Fraud are solved.

“While it is right that an investigation has been launched, these disturbing revelations reinforce the need for the government, banks and regulators to move swiftly to introduce better protections for consumers and vital anti-fraud measures like confirmation of payee security checks.”

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