Here are the kind of text messages you might expect when you tackle a scammer. Tackle them anyway.
“Fraud is now costing the UK economy as much as the entire NHS. The annual figure for fraud given by the National Crime Agency is over £190Bn based on figures from three years ago. This is almost certainly an underestimate. The NHS in the same year cost £197Bn a year.”
This quote is an extract from a recent event run by the Transparency Task Force (TTF), featuring Anthony Stansfeld, Police Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley Police.
I am writing this blog as a post I can link to on Google. I do this to defend my name; when scammers attack me or my businesses publicly, and make false disparaging comments on social media in retaliation for the significant work I do combating financial crime.
Why me? I am a volunteer and award-winning ambassador with the Transparency Task Force. I am an executive director of a not-for-profit, The Fraud Team. I am the CEO of Asset Recovery Network (UK) Limited. I am also CEO of firms the Academy of Life Planning Ltd and Hapnav Ltd. I campaign for social justice. I am not the fraudster’s best friend.
The TTF extract continues …
“Little is done to combat major fraud. Less than 0.03% of the amount lost is spent on countering fraud. The Serious Fraud Office receives around £50m a year. Action Fraud, which has been shown to be largely unfit for purpose, receives £16m. Police Forces have neither the time, capacity, nor capability to take on fraud. When fraud cases are brought to their attention, they are either sent to Action Fraud, where mostly they seem to disappear into an administrative hole never to be heard of again; or are classed as a civil matter. The few that are distributed back down to police forces are rarely investigated. Less than 2% of fraud is investigated properly, and only a fraction of that brought to justice.”
“Despite the scale of the problem, there has been little effort or no enthusiasm by the many regulatory authorities, notably the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulatory Committee, the Serious Fraud Office, and the Financial Conduct Agency, to either stop these frauds or bring the perpetrators to justice.”
“There are mountains of evidence showing that fraudsters have ruined thousands of companies, farmers, and families, and the lives of thousands of individuals. A great number of jobs have been destroyed. Companies, homes, farms, and possessions have been repossessed on forged documentation across the country. The damage to the UK economy has been massive.”
“The UK needs a profitable financial services sector that is well-governed and free from widespread scams and fraud. We are a long way away from that.”
With public deterrents failing drastically, we might choose to tackle matters as individuals. To each do our bit. Tackling fraudsters and scammers privately is not without risks. They strike back. For example, they send threatening messages and attempt to discredit you on social media.
When a scammer disparages someone on social media the law does not currently require the host platform to remove it. The platforms claim to have reporting procedures for removing offensive or defamatory content, but these procedures are ineffective, and hosts are terribly unhelpful. Often, the platforms simply refuse to remove offensive content. I am advised that the legal costs to remove defamatory content placed by a fraudster or scammer in a private action through the courts is over £20,000.
Thankfully, this year we see the on-line harms bill which will strengthen public power to mitigate the risks posed by harmful activity and content online to hold internet hosts more accountable for the part they play.
Hopefully Google will listen to me one day and delete the scammer’s messages on my profile.