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“Spying on Text Scammers to Ensure Justice is Served”


The Prime Minister supported the new fraud strategy, which will be announced by Ms Braverman in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Rishi Sunak said, “We will fight these fraudsters wherever they try to hide.

“By blocking scams at the source, improving protections for people and strengthening enforcement, we will prevent more of these cold-hearted crimes from happening in the first place and ensure that justice is done.”

GCHQ already works with banks to fight fraud and cyber-attacks, but is now taking on an expanded role alongside MI6 and MI5 to lead the effort to “identify and disrupt” fraudsters abroad.

They will work with a new police National Fraud Squad (NFS) that will review the way scams are investigated by taking a proactive, intelligence-led approach backed by 400 new specialist investigators, the government said.

In her article, Ms Braverman said the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC), which brings together experts including GCHQ, has already removed 120,000 scams – but she said ministers would go further by “naming and shaming” websites where the most fraud occurred .

Errant tech companies and social media platforms that fail to prevent fraud on their sites risk fines of up to 10 percent of their global revenue under the Online Safety Bill currently under consideration by the House of Lords.

Action Fraud ‘not fit for purpose’

Action Fraud, the police hotline, will be reviewed after being labeled “not fit for purpose” by MPs. It will be replaced by a simpler website to report scams, a larger call center with 30 percent more staff and an online portal where victims can get updates on the progress of their case. Even the name can be changed.‌

As part of a £30 million government injection to revive Action Fraud, a new artificial intelligence computer system is being built to act as a “super brain” to analyze and “assemble” all fraud in the UK and the identify criminals behind it. It is expected to be launched next year.

‌All fraud will be reported to the revamped Action Fraud, which will help determine if it is so large and serious that the investigation should be led by the National Crime Agency, newly reinforced regional police teams or local forces.

Fraud is also equated with serious and organized crime as a national threat, requiring police forces to devote more resources to investigations.

In 2021, only 1,753 officers and staff were targeted for economic crimes – 0.8 percent of total police personnel, even though fraud accounts for 41 percent of all crime.

Legislative changes allow banks to delay payment processing longer than the current business day plus 24 hours, so that suspicious payments can be investigated.

‌Cold calls on financial products such as sham insurance or cryptocurrency schemes will be banned, as will “sim farms” – these are devices that can be loaded with hundreds of SIM cards to send thousands of scam texts simultaneously.

The government will also review the use of mass text messaging services in an effort to prevent the technology from helping criminals.

Anthony Browne MP, a former CEO of the British Banking Association and member of the Treasury Select Committee, has been appointed as the new anti-fraud champion.

Mr Browne said: “The technology industry, phone companies and financial services companies must take responsibility to protect their users by stopping fraud in the first place, and work together to eradicate fraud.

“We can use the technologies that fraudsters exploit against them to stop them, and I will work with the industry to make sure that happens.”

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