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Published: Monday May 23, 2016

Altering the approach to fraud?

The new Commissioner of the City of London Police Ian Dyson has given an interview to the London Evening Standard. Nothing groundbreaking here – but on closer examination it may provide evidence that at long last the true impact of Fraud and associated criminality has on UK PLC is being acknowledged and bought out into the open.

He discloses that over 50 per cent of all fraud reports are based in foreign countries and therefore untouchable by law enforcement?

“We cannot investigate our way out of this, it is global and it is online. The perpetrators in about 50 per cent of the frauds we receive each month are abroad. They don’t even need to be people (?), they can be websites, they are call centres, so it is unrealistic to think we can lock someone up in the traditional way for every crime.”

This type of sentiment is either realistic or ultra defensive arse covering depending on your perspective.

The remainder of the article focuses firstly on providing examples of high value headline grabbing investigations and revealing how the forming of new partnerships and recruitment of “tech savvy” staff to replace “PC Plod” (I’m sure my ex-colleagues are thrilled with that description) will lead the charge in a brave new world.

“I also want to address the perception that fraud is so big and so global that people think if they report it to the bank nothing ever happens and law enforcement is not interested. Well, we are interested. It is just educating everyone that you cannot get a collar felt for every crime that is occurring.”

Hmmm for someone like myself who analyses what people say and how people they say it this quote is quite significant. The first thing that comes to my mind was the American showman and businessman PT Barnum.

The Barnum effect, also known as the Forer effect, is a theory that proposes that we will attribute high levels of accuracy to information if it appears specific but is actually extremely generic. A prime example is horoscopes and fortune telling.

This quote seems to be adopting such an approach by first acknowledging that Fraud is massive ,global  and of interest to the police BUT don’t expect anyone to be arrested for every (any?) crime.

The cynic in me views this as a couched admission that Joe Public should not expect the “low level” fraud – that in terms of the high profile cases stated here are insignificant but to them is life changing – to be investigated because it is too difficult. Again I say this is either brutal honesty or arse covering that is down to you (The readers) perception.

Chucked in at the conclusion is the view, which will come as no real surprise to those of us involved in counter fraud, that;

“The Crime Survey for England and Wales would record five million extra offences when it includes fraud in its July figures for the first time”

So there it is it all makes sense now! Getting in early maybe? But we should not all panic because;

” law enforcement was fighting back with the launch of the Home Office-funded Joint Fraud Task Force and an alliance between his force and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office”.

No mention of the SFO then?

Whilst this is a rather cynical and personal evaluation I do acknowledge that this may be a new broom sweeping clean and do wish all the best to COLP, Mr Dyson and all those involved and hope that my words are rammed back down my throat, nothing would make me happier.

Bob Pointer is the founder and head of professional development programmes at the Centre for Investigative Learning.

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