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This year has been one of the most challenging periods in recent history. Despite the impact of lockdown, the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist police unit sponsored by the finance and banking industry, continues to target the criminal gangs responsible for fraud, including cracking down on those using the Covid-19 outbreak to defraud vulnerable members of the public.
In the first half of 2020 the unit disrupted seven organised crime groups (OCGs), made 70 arrests and secured 30 convictions. Through our close collaboration with banks, the telecoms industry and other law enforcement agencies, the unit prevented an estimated £12.5 million of fraud and seized or blocked over £2 million in assets. In addition, our partnership with several social media platforms to identify accounts that featured posts relating to payment crime saw over 575 social media accounts linked to fraudulent activity taken down.
The DCPCU, which is comprised of officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police as well as banking industry fraud investigators and support staff from UK Finance, carried out enforcement activity against individuals seeking to use Covid-19 as an opportunity to target victims, executing 25 warrants between March and June 2020. With people understandably anxious at this unprecedented time and concerned about their finances, we saw how quickly criminals tried to exploit these fears, using Covid-19 as a cover story to try to trick victims into giving away money or personal details by sending scam text messages and emails, otherwise known as phishing scams. In one particular case, we protected over 200 customer accounts from falling victim to fraud when successful intelligence work by the unit identified a student from Camden who was responsible for sending out text messages purporting to be from the UK government and mobile phone operators.
Criminals, who are becoming highly sophisticated in their methods to commit fraud, are also using a range of techniques. In March this year we successfully dismantled a highly organised criminal gang who committed £750,000 of cheque fraud across the UK.
The DCPCU continues to work closely with UK Finance and its members from across the payment industry to tackling the constantly evolving challenges of fraud. We will continue to seek to recover compromised card numbers and other compromised personal data to protect both industry and individuals from becoming victims of crime.
Consumers should also follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to stay safe from fraud, and always question any uninvited approaches to transfer money or give away personal details in case they are a scam.
Gary Robinson, Detective Chief Inspector, Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit