An undercover investigation by The Times into Action Fraud has revealed
- most reports are never followed up on
- managers mocked fraud victims as “morons”, “screwballs” and “psychos”
- victims were misled into thinking that they were talking to a police officer rather than an outsourced call centre worker, and led to believe their case will be investigated when most reports are never followed up on
About half of all reports to Action Fraud are filed as “information reports” as opposed to “crime reports”, and are unlikely to ever be looked at again. The decision is usually made during the call, but victims are, naturally, not told if their report is to be ignored.
As little as 2% of reports result in a conviction.
Four Action Fraud staff members have been suspended.
It seems a safe bet that those thrown under the bus by Action Fraud will have been those indulging in offensive but frankly innocuous behaviour like playfighting during calls, or tweeting about being hungover at work.
Those who created the system whereby most fraud reports in the UK are filed in the circular filing tray under the desk are much higher up the ladder and immune.
For months I have followed up any reference to contacting Action Fraud with words to the effect of “Your report will be placed on a file and if enough reports are received, a police force may take action. Do not expect to hear anything further beyond a standard acknowledgment” depending on how long the paragraph has already run on for.
Contacting Action Fraud is not a waste of time, but only because victims of fraud usually need to feel that they have done something to achieve closure, and contacting Action Fraud is usually all that can be done.
Rather than launching an investigation and throwing a few more phone monkeys into the dole queue, it would be refreshing if the UK’s police force would instead hold their hands up and admit what many readers will already know: the police do not give a shit, and have never given a shit, if people fall victim to fraud.
The idea that they do is dangerous, because one of the most popular phrases in a scammer’s playbook is “if this was a scam, the police would have shut us down”.
Unfortunately the police have a tendency to indulge the public’s Dixon of Dock Green fantasy that if you tell the police about a crime, a bobby will immediately spring into action. It suits them to indulge this fantasy for PR purposes and political leverage.
So, ironically enough, it is likely that an investigation will be conducted, Action Fraud will promise that lessons have been learned, and then carry on as before.
If any boiler rooms need some extra employees, I hear there will shortly be a few people on the job market who are experienced in reading off scripts, pretending to be someone they’re not and telling fraud victims that up is down.