Chris Hayward on Fraud

Chris Hayward
Credit Jamie Smith and City of London Corporation

Fraud is the most common type of crime we face. 38% of all crime committed in England and Wales last year was fraud – it costs money, weakens our economic security, and ruins lives.

On Sunday, I welcomed ministers from the G7 and Five Eyes countries, global law enforcement agencies, tech companies, and industry partners to Guildhall as part of the government’s Global Fraud Summit.

This week, international governments, law enforcement agencies, industry leaders, and multilateral organisations will come together to tackle fraud.

Now fraud might not hit the headlines all that often, but that does not mean it is any less damaging to the victims. Just because someone is not robbed at gunpoint like the wild west of old, it does not mean that the wild west of the internet is any less harmful.

The Government estimates that fraud costs society £6.8 billion. That’s money saved by families for that special holiday or by a business looking to expand. Fraud is not a victimless crime, and we should not treat it as such.

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Here in the UK, fraud is slowly rising up the political agenda. In November, the Government launched the Online Fraud Charter, an agreement with some of the world’s biggest tech companies including Facebook, Instagram, Google and TikTok to verify new advertisers and more quickly remove fraudulent content.

Alongside this, there is also a cultural change whereby economic crime is increasingly recognised as a national security threat, because security, confidence, and trust are the foundations from which a prosperous economy is built.

Indeed, economic prosperity and economic security are two sides of the same coin.

We in the City know this because our reputation as a place to do business has endured through the centuries because of London’s reputation as a place that respects the rule of law.

The City of London Police is the National Lead Force for fraud and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for economic and cybercrime. This means they play a leading role in co-ordinating and supporting national, regional, and local police forces to tackle fraud, economic and cybercrime across England and Wales.

But we always strive to do more. Because the reality is that fraud is a global problem. Global in scope. Global in the reach of criminal gangs. Global in the means by which fraud and scams are committed.

If there’s one thing that must come from the Global Fraud Summit, it is the agreement for greater international collaboration.

Criminal gangs do not respect international borders. Fraud often provides the funds which underpin other forms of transnational organised crime including modern slavery, human trafficking, drugs, and cybercrime.

The international community must be co-ordinated. We must work with the tech industry, as partners, to combat crime together. That means encouraging a greater role for tech companies to protect individuals at source and make the best use of their innovative capabilities to harness technology for good.

We could also better work with these internet giants to develop our own analytical capacity, allowing us to identify and address existing criminal threats more quickly.

As criminal gangs deploy ever-more sophisticated technologies and methods to fraudulently part us from our hard-earned money, those of us with a duty to protect others must do more.

Here in the City of London, we have a reputation for seamlessly blending innovation, creativity, hard work and more to achieve great things. We must deploy these assets now, to provide global leadership for the good of all in the fight against fraud.

Chris Hayward is City of London’s Corporation Policy Chairman

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