Freedom of Information Request Seeks to Reveal the Truth about UK Telecoms Fraud

Fraud expert Dave Morrow has made it his mission to explore the connections between telecoms crime, terrorism and money laundering and as a result he leads the campaign for UK telcos to help the police confiscate more money from criminals. Part of the problem is unreliable and inconsistent data about the value of telecoms fraud. Some estimates suggest global telecoms crime is worth USD 38 billion, but do police forces appreciate the impact of fraud on national economies? Meanwhile, money is being laundered and terrorists are being financed. So how can we motivate change? Morrow believes the solution involves examining the data already collected by the authorities and highlighting its inadequacies.

If the UK made better use of its Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) then fraudsters would lose millions and that money would be used for the benefit of society instead. To discover what numbers the authorities use Morrow has submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the body which prosecutes criminals in England and Wales, and to Action Fraud, the UK’s national centre for tackling cyber crime and fraud. This is the information he requested from the CPS:

I am seeking to establish the extent to which Telecommunications Fraud is prosecuted in UK. For the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, please provide:

a) the number of prosecutions brought under the Communications Act 2003 section 125

b) the sum of the related dishonest benefit

c) the value of Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation orders made in these cases

d) the value of any related POCA recoveries

Since CPS charging advice considers that prosecutions may also be brought under the Fraud Act 2006 section 11, or the Computer Misuse Act 1990 section 1, please provide the same data for prosecutions brought under these Acts and sections where they relate to the provision of telecommunication services.

And this is the substance of the Freedom of Information request that Morrow sent to Action Fraud:

I am seeking to establish the extent to which Telecommunications Fraud is reported in UK. For the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, please provide:

a) the number of crimes reported under NFIB7 Telecoms Industry Fraud (Misuse of Contracts)

b) the value of crimes reported under NFIB7 Telecoms Industry Fraud (Misuse of Contracts)

c) the number of crimes reported under NFIB52D Computer Hacking – PBX/Dial Through

d) the value of crimes reported under NFIB52D Computer Hacking – PBX/Dial Through

Morrow believes the responses will show that the true scale of telecoms fraud is not accurately reported. The government’s reporting categories (as listed in this report) may not even be sufficient to count all kinds of telecoms fraud.

Commsrisk will keep you posted about the UK POCA campaign, and the results from Morrow’s Freedom of Information requests. In the meantime, there are many ways that UK professionals can get involved and support the campaign.

  • Read this article to learn more about POCA and the reasons to use it to fight crime.
  • Contact the campaign team via the POCA page at the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG). If you have data about fraud which might be helpful, we have the contacts to ensure it gets to the right people in law enforcement.
  • We want to draft and circulate a public letter, aimed at telco executives and Members of Parliament, to raise awareness of the potential to use POCA to fight telecoms fraud. Tell us if you will support the campaign by signing the letter.
  • Encourage your colleagues to back the campaign. You can share this post via the social network buttons below, and tweet about the campaign using the hashtag #TelcosWantPOCA.

Let’s show that telecoms is full of public-spirited people who want to fight crime. Join the campaign!

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns

Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.

 

Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a founding member of Qatar’s National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum’s Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group, and is an editorial advisor to Black Swan. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

 

Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric’s history as editor.