News in brief - 23 February 2021


A specialist police unit funded by the banking and finance industry prevented almost £20 million of fraud and arrested over 100 suspected criminals in 2020, including several involved in scams exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic (The Times, p5). The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), consisting of officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police Service and staff from UK Finance, convicted 54 criminals following successful DCPCU investigations. A total of 50 years in prison was handed out to defendants in fraud cases investigated by the unit.

The convictions include a criminal involved in a large-scale campaign sending out fake text messages claiming to offer tax refunds from the UK government due to the pandemic. Other successful operations by the unit include the sentencing of a cheque fraud gang to a combined total of over 24 years in prison, and the jailing of a courier scam fraudster who spent £5,000 in a two-day period on cards stolen from three elderly victims.

The unit remains on the frontline in protecting the public against fraud and is currently investigating over 150 live cases, including several Covid-19 related scams. Two separate cases coming to trial in February and March involve defendants accused of sending text message scams related to the Covid-19 vaccine that seek to harvest people's personal or bank details.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, the head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), said:
?Criminal gangs have callously targeted people's finances and anxieties during a year which proved uniquely difficult for many.

?I am proud that we have successfully targeted those behind these despicable crimes by quickly adapting our work to the operational challenges posed by the pandemic.

?The DCPCU remains on the frontline in protecting the public against economic crime. By working closely with the banking industry and other partners we are continuing cracking down on those responsible for Covid-19 related fraud, with multiple arrests in recent weeks of individuals believed to be involved in coronavirus vaccine scams.?

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, commented:
?The DCPCU's impressive results in the face of Covid-19 are an important example of the banking industry's close collaboration with law enforcement to stop the criminals seeking to steal customers? money.

?The banking and finance industry's partnership with the DCPCU is an important part of our arsenal to protect the public from fraud. The successes with social media and telecommunication partners show what can be achieved when all sectors collaborate in a united front against this threat.

?We would urge the public to follow the advice of our Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to stay safe from scams and always take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or information.?


The prime minister Boris Johnson has outlined the government's plans to lift lockdown restrictions designed to curb the spread of Covid-19. The exit strategy comprises four stages set five weeks apart, with progression from one phase to the next dependent on the fulfilment of four key criteria (BBC News).

To proceed with the next stage of lockdown easing, official data must show that: none of the previous changes have hampered the vaccine rollout; the vaccination programme is reducing hospital admission and death rates; the health service is not overwhelmed; and there are no new variants of concern. If all of these tests are met, the next phase will begin (The Guardian, p1). The first phase involves the reopening of all schools to all pupils in England from 8 March, followed by the return of the ?rule of 6? outdoors from March 29. Stage 2 from April 12 will see the re-opening of shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor attractions, with pubs and restaurants also allowed to serve outdoors (The Times, p1 ). Stage 3 will see the return of all indoor hospitality from May 17 with the stage from June 21 expected to see the end of all limits on social contact.


The FCA has today published final guidance for firms on the treatment of the 27.7 million adults in the UK that have characteristics of vulnerability (such as poor health, experiencing negative life events, low financial resilience or low capability. The FCA has clarified its expectations on the fair treatment of customers and advised firms to ensure that customers in vulnerable circumstances can receive the same treatment as other non-vulnerable customers.(FCA)

A government review of the EU's Solvency 2 rulebook for UK firms could free up £95 billion of capital to charge Britain's domestic investment and green energy infrastructure drive (City AM).

The pound continued its 2021 rally, holding above $1.40 for the first time since April 2018 following the announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown (The Telegraph,£, p7).

The FCA has urged financial firms to continually revisit how they lead remote teams as lockdown fatigue increases the impact on mental wellbeing (I News,£, p42).