#romancescams | Financial scams have become hidden ‘epidemic’ as impersonation cases double in a year

Action Fraud said that having a national system allows law enforcement to see the whole picture. It is currently working to create a “new and improved next-generation service”.

Angela McLaren, assistant commissioner for economic and cyber crime at the City of London Police, which includes Action Fraud, said the threat from fraud is “increasing” and that the force is working with partners to improve the policing response.

“This has included investment into new leadership roles and technology, and also increased numbers of officers dedicated to fraud thanks to the policing uplift programme,” she added.

“We know that forces have competing priorities and not every case of fraud with viable lines of enquiry will result in a judicial outcome. It is therefore key that we collectively seek to prevent fraud at scale and fully support those who become victims.”

Digital crime a challenge for police

The geographical nature of the crime can also present huge issues for law enforcement. 

Speaking to this newspaper, Ciaran Martin, who stepped down as head of the NCSC last summer, said that the digital world had changed the way fraud can be policed.

“For the first time in human history it is possible to inflict large-scale damage on a country like the UK without anybody setting foot in it,” he said. 

“If you are going to commit a terrorist atrocity you can plot it from outside the UK but eventually somebody has to do something on UK soil. 

“Now it is entirely possible to run a sophisticated, large-scale operation from outside the UK, and outside a friendly jurisdiction where a partner police force can do something about it, so it does lead to a different approach. 

“It means defences are more important, intelligence is more important and potentially disruptive state capabilities can be a necessary last resort.”

The problem is only likely to get worse without intervention. Mrs Wood said: “The criminals are capitalising on this increasing digitisation of life. As much as we live our lives online, so do they.

“Over the next year I would predict an increase in cyber fraud because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel at the moment, we are all at home.

“And it’s across all age ranges. It’s not just older people being silly and not understanding how the online world works. We are seeing more young people falling victim, perhaps because they are doing all of their shopping and everything online.”

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