As you read this, it is quite possible that a scammer has plans to steal money from you or someone close to you. Money carefully saved to pay for a vacation or a wedding or responsibly stored away as a nest egg.
These criminals don’t care who they target. That could be your elderly parents, a vulnerable neighbor or a good friend. They can prey on your emotions to catch you off guard. They may even be after that retirement pot you’ve been working towards all your life.
Our standards of decency do not exist in the mind of a fraudster.
Fraud is responsible for 41 percent of all crime in England and Wales. Last year, more than 3.7 million violations were reported. One in 15 adults was affected, at a cost of nearly £7 billion.
No corner of our country remains untouched. In Fareham, I’ve had voters contact me about a scam targeting them – a company offering bogus services, an online retailer stealing their money, or a friend betraying their trust. The impact is devastating and goes far beyond financial damage. It’s personal – and causes enormous emotional tension.
We need to bring more fraudsters to justice
This government is going further than ever to solve that problem. On Wednesday we will be presenting in Parliament a massive plan to fight fraud and ensure that the public’s hard-earned money is not just easily scooped up by scammers.
Our action must be bold and determined, but prevention is just as important as cure. Therefore, more needs to be done to block fraud at source.
This can only be achieved if we work closely with the private sector and law enforcement.
Technology and telecom companies provide the platforms and services where contact is often made between scammer and victim. Many people have received suspicious calls or messages from people who know alarming amounts about us. They often claim to be from the bank or a government agency, trying to gain people’s trust before stealing our money.
The online safety law will make technology platforms responsible for protecting their users against fraud for the first time. We will also propose banning cold calling on financial products and countering number spoofing.
We will ban devices that allow criminals to send massive scam texts or disguise their phone number to make untraceable scam calls, such as SIM farms that allow criminals to send thousands of messages at the touch of a button.
We know that such actions are possible. With the help of high-tech firewalls, the telecom and technology sector has already blocked 600 million scam text messages since January last year.
And the National Cyber Security Center has removed 120,000 scams on 220,500 websites since the launch of the Suspicious Email Reporting Service in 2020. I will ensure that this government goes one step further by naming and shaming the websites where most fraud takes place.