Using the UK’s POCA Law to Fight Telco Fraud

Previously I have spoken about the connections between telecoms crime, terrorism and money laundering. My goal has been to raise awareness, but now I want us to move beyond words and to take action to defeat a pernicious evil that not only undermines our businesses, but funds people who threaten our way of life. I’m asking for the communications businesses who are victims of fraud to engage with law enforcement, provide fraud data in confidence and help shape an industry solution.

The grim reality is that global telecoms crime is worth USD 38 billion. Money is being laundered and terrorists are being financed. Despite the goodwill and hard work of the TelCos, they’ve been unable to make a significant impact and international frauds continue unchecked. The TelCos agree that crime would be reduced if payment didn’t reach the fraudsters – but, after years of discussion, they still can’t agree how to block those payments in practice.

The money being made from telecoms crime is subject to seizure the same as the proceeds of any other crime, so one answer is to use money laundering legislation – in UK that’s POCA (the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002). Delegates at the RAG Summer Conference estimated that telecoms fraud valued at £50-100 million terminates in the UK every year, but how much is seized as proceeds of crime? Nil, zero, zip, zilch. How much was even reported to UK law enforcement as a crime?

One definition of insanity (sometimes wrongly attributed to Einstein) is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.

Q: So what have we been doing differently, in order to stop the criminals and terrorists?

A: Nothing.

Come on, we’re part of an industry built on innovation – let’s try something new!

I’m calling on all UK telecoms fraud and risk professionals to join the campaign to see POCA being used to squeeze the criminals and terrorists in one place that will really hurt – in the wallet. Here’s how you can help:

  • Contact the POCA Telecoms Fraud Campaign via our page at the Risk & Assurance Group. 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 intend to draft and circulate a public letter, aimed at telco executives and Members of Parliament, to raise awareness of the potential for POCA to be used to fight telecoms fraud. Let us know if you will support us by signing the letter.
  • Learn more about POCA and the reasons to use it to fight crime by reading this article. It explains how we could better work with law enforcement and the obstacles we need to overcome.
  • Spread the word, and get your colleagues in the UK telecoms industry to back the campaign. Talk to them, share this post via the buttons below, and tweet using the hashtag #TelcosWantPOCA. To succeed, the initiative will need the backing of this industry, so we are counting on you to make your voices heard.

If we work with law enforcement we can take millions out of the pockets of fraudsters and terrorists. Let’s show everybody the priorities of the public-spirited people who work in the British telecoms industry. We can defeat the bad guys, but only if we work together. Join the campaign!

David Morrow
David Morrow
Dave has 35 years of law enforcement, investigation and fraud management experience including multiple international assignments. He is a recognised telecoms fraud expert and for a number of years chaired the GSMA workgroup responsible for Security & Fraud Risk Assessments.

Dave now provides fraud management support as an independent consultant.