I think the whole approach we take to countering fraud and the culture around it needs to change.
There is a lot of great work going on from dedicated and professional people like you who work in the counter fraud environment, however fraud is at epidemic levels and will only continue to rise until those at the top understand the threat, the volume, the harm to individuals and the economy and stand up and implement the measures needed to change things. In some respects, it is analogous to trying to change the culture of the Met!
For me, changing things starts with the language we use. Why do we have an insistence on using the word ‘scam’ and ‘scammers’? These are words that glamourize what is a pernicious act, words more akin to the actions of Robin Hood in robbing the rich to help the poor. We don’t have a Scam Act of 2006 or an organisation called Action Scam so let’s start by changing the language and calling it what it is.
The confusion around language of fraud isn’t helped by the media. Too often we see articles that mention the words ‘fraudsters’ and ‘scammers’ when talking about the same individuals. If the journalists can’t make their minds up and are confused, how can they expect their readers to understand?
In addition the word ‘fraud’ in itself, without an official definition, may not sufficiently describe the evil act that it is, that preys on the vulnerable without a care to the harm being caused.
Perceptions need to change, the case of the Rev. Mike Hall in Luton last November and the lamentable initial police response draws this into sharp focus. As we know, the Fraud Act offences are conduct offences and it is not necessary that anyone is actually defrauded. There is too much reliance on the fact victims are in some cases covered by insurance or their bank replacing ‘loss’.
In all my 50 years of being involved in countering fraud I have never known it to be at the parlous state it is in today. Strong words I know, but until someone in authority decides to do something that will make a significant change we can only keep banging our heads against the brick wall in the hope one day we will breach it.
Do you agree with Peter’s comments?
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