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Bye bye to ‘SIM farms’ and financial cold calls

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The Government has unveiled details of its National Fraud Squad as it confirmed it will ban cold calls on all financial products and tackle ‘SIM farms’.

Fraud is now the most common crime in the UK costing nearly £7bn a year as one in 15 people fall victim to scams.

Technology is a big driver and has opened up new avenues for criminals to target victims, with nine in 10 internet users saying they’ve encountered scams in this way.

As part of its “fight back against scammers”, the Government has unveiled its National Fraud Squad of 400 “specialist investors”, as well as its fraud strategy which will ban cold calls on all financial products. This will include sham insurance or crypto schemes.

It will also work with telecoms regulator Ofcom to clamp down on number ‘spoofing’, so fraudsters can’t impersonate legitimate UK phone numbers.

And it will also ban other devices and methods such as ‘SIM farms’ used by scammers to contact thousands of people at once. The Government said it will review the use of mass texting services to keep these technologies out of the reach of criminals.

Currently, anyone who has fallen victim to a scam can report it to Action Fraud. But the Home Office confirmed it will launch a new system within the year to replace the current Action Fraud Service for people to report fraud.

“It will provide a simpler route for reporting fraud online, with reduced waiting times and an online portal to allow victims to get timely updates on the progress of their case.

“This improved service will also ensure victims’ reports are acted upon more effectively, using data to ensure we can continue to build intelligence as criminals continue to find new ways to target victims,” the Government said.

‘Fight the fraudsters’

Meanwhile, an “Anti-Fraud champion”, Anthony Browne MP, has been appointed “to drive collaboration with industry and represent the UK internationally”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said: “Scammers ruin lives in seconds, deceiving people in the most despicable ways in order to line their pockets.

“We will take the fight to these fraudsters, wherever they try to hide. By blocking scams at the source, boosting protections for people and bolstering enforcement, we will stop more of these cold-hearted crimes from happening in the first place and make sure justice is done.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, said: “Fraud is a blight on our country with ruthless criminals scamming the British public out of their hard-earned cash. They exploit people’s trust and steal their life savings, shattering their confidence and leaving them feeling vulnerable. It also fuels serious organised crime and terrorism. Meanwhile scammers are adapting, taking advantage of new technology to prey on more victims.

“It is vital we adopt a new approach to this threat. The Fraud Strategy outlines how we will use all levers available to us – through Government, law enforcement, industry and international partners – to track down these criminals, intercept their scams and bring them to justice.”

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