Watch: Ian Dyson QPM on counter fraud in 2022
Fraud is no longer a specialist crime. It has become a universal one that “affects everybody and can be committed by anybody.”
So says economic crime expert Ian Dyson QPM, a Distinguished fellow at RUSI (Royal United Services Institute), former City of London Police Commissioner and contributor to our recent report, Counter Fraud in 2022: Navigating the Path to Prevention.
With fraud now accounting for more than a third of UK crime, Clue spoke to Ian for his concise view of the fraud problem and how we can combat it with a data-focused approach to counter fraud that comprises detection, awareness and prevention.
Watch our interview with Ian or read the full transcript below:
Ian Dyson QPM: My name is Ian Dyson. And until recently, I was the commissioner of the City of London Police, the City of London has a national responsibility around fraud and cyber crime. I worked in the city as a chief officer for 11 years. And part of my role throughout my time in the city was to oversee the development and expansion of the National Fraud capability.
What is fraud?
ID: My starting point of of understanding what fraud is – and you would expect this as a former police officer – is to go to the legislation. The Fraud Act really talks about three main areas where somebody commits fraud, if they make a gain or some advantage through the false representation, failing to disclose information or an abuse of deposition. So that really covers most of the fraud that we see at the moment.
What is the scale of fraud?
ID: Fraud is huge now. It is the biggest single crime type that and cybercrime, which is inextricably linked with it because so much fraud now is online, they are now constituting roughly a third and growing of all crime types in the UK, but it’s moved from a very specialist crime type, and was treated as a very specialist crime type by law enforcement, it become this universal crime that affects everybody, and can be committed by anybody.
What is counter fraud?
ID: In terms of definition, I’ll be really simple counter fraud means the activities that the resources, the capability and activities that are carried out to prevent or to disrupt or to address the challenge of fraud. It’s as simple as that.
How has counter fraud evolved?
ID: I think counter fraud teams have become broader. And I think what, what you see now is multi-skilled teams, whether they be analysts, intelligence officers… In a private organisation, you have a lot of ex law enforcement officers that have an investigative mindset. Clearly the best technology that that organisation or sector can afford to identify and tackle fraudulent activity within their systems. And then the sort of analysis of data.
How can we detect fraud?
ID: What it seems to me, the most effective counter fraud in that circumstance is really good, strong, analytical tools that will look across massive data sets and identify the anomalies.
And then the other big thing for me, is the prevention message, getting that message out to the general public, that will pick up a lot of the frauds that are not sophisticated that are not dependent on massive investments in technology by the fraudster – they are really, really simple frauds. And that really strong educational preventative message, I think, is massive for counter fraud.
Are we doing enough to share intelligence?
ID: Without a doubt, no, we’re not, we’re not at all. I think there’s two main reasons for that. My view, number one is, it’s easy to say sharing, it’s very hard to do sometimes in practice. Why? Because you know, systems are not compatible between organisations; in order to process the data so that it is compatible and shareable between organisations, you end up with a big cost. And then the second big one is the legal considerations where I think many organisations can be risk-averse, around sharing.
Overall, the biggest failure of many data sharing initiatives that I’ve been party to over the years is not having a very, very clear purpose of the sharing.
What are the biggest challenges in counter fraud?
ID: I think there’s one overarching one for me, and that is the strategic will to tackle it. And I use that phrase, because I think that applies to government. And I’m sort of heartened that the government are looking at sort of 10-year fraud strategy, which if it’s properly thought through and developed could be a real, a real game changer. But the strategic will to invest in it, not to just assume that that law enforcement and other agencies can do this on the same resources that they have at the moment. It does require investment and they need to think creatively about using criminal assets, seized funds, fines levied on institutions, all of those things to fund this properly.
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