Ministers, police and prosecutors have created a “culture of permissiveness” for fraud that allows criminals to mine billions to fund human trafficking and drug trafficking, a damning Lords report finds today.
Successive governments have failed to tackle the ‘scourge’ of what has become the country’s most common crime, with more than 40 million UK adults targeted by scammers in the first half of this year alone.
But despite the “exponential growth” in crime, “criminals face little risk of being caught,” the report says.
Successive governments have failed to tackle the “scourge” of what has become the country’s most common crime
Law enforcement agencies are “chronically underfunded,” with a “paltry” 1 percent of their resources focused on fighting white-collar crime.
According to the report, prison sentences for fraud should be increased from the current 10 to up to 14 years to reflect the “immeasurable” emotional and financial cost to victims, leaving many victims traumatized and suffering “devastating mental health consequences.”
The brutal report follows an investigation by the Daily Mail which revealed how lack of action by authorities has transformed the UK into the global fraud capital.
“Until all fraudulent industries face significant financial, legal and reputational risks by failing to prevent fraud, they will not act,” the report said.
It goes on to say: “The private sector must be encouraged to fight fraud not only through the threat of criminal liability or regulatory action, but also through the creation of a safe haven for data sharing for fraud prevention purposes.
“Only by taking a holistic approach that includes every part of the fraud chain can fraud be prevented before the money leaves a victim’s account.”
It added that the telecom sector needs to do more to fight scam messages before they reach victims and tackle spoof calls.
It added that the telecom sector needs to do more to fight scam messages before they reach victims and tackle spoof calls
It added that the financial services sector was “snapped into action” due to the burden of refunding customers lost to fraud. The committee suggested delaying payments in certain circumstances to give banks more time to assess risks and contact customers.
“All parties involved in the fraud chain, including the payee’s bank, need to know that they have an obligation to prevent fraud and to take care of their mistakes and victims’ losses once they occur,” the report said.
The committee also called for a “joint, centrally managed awareness campaign” to tackle fraud.
“Without fear of investigation or court, organized criminals around the world are turning to the UK as a lucrative market to commit fraud.
“They know they can act with limited fear of prosecution or redress for their crimes, the proceeds of which they use to fund other criminal activities, including human trafficking and drug trafficking, and they have no regard for their victims.”
A government spokesman said: “We remain fully committed to stopping callous predators from stealing money from hard-working families.
“We will be releasing our fraud strategy shortly, detailing how we are stopping fraud attempts at the source, empowering potential victims to identify and prevent fraud, and prosecuting more perpetrators.”
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