Law enforcement agencies 'losing the battle against fraudsters', says expert

Out-Law News | 02 Nov 2015 | 11:14 am | 1 min. read

Law enforcement agencies are "losing the battle against fraudsters", an asset recovery expert has said.

Alan Sheeley of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said figures disclosed by RBS Group about scams affecting its customers offered further evidence that law enforcement agencies are not adequately helping people and businesses recover money stolen from them.

Earlier this week, RBS revealed that its customers had lost almost £26 million to scams between January and September this year. According to a BBC report, RBS said that nearly 5,000 people had been victims of scams during the period. It said 70% of customers that are scammed do not recover any of the money stolen, the report said.

"If victims want to maximise their chances of recovering their losses then they need to take proactive steps without the aid of law enforcement agencies," Sheeley said. "They need to liaise with civil fraud and asset recovery solicitors, without delay, who are able to deploy search and seize orders, which enable the victim's solicitor to enter the fraudsters’ properties to preserve evidence, and freezing orders, to freeze the fraudsters’ bank accounts to avoid dissipation of the stolen monies by the fraudster."

"It is becoming more and more apparent that this is the only way to fight against fraudsters in the 21st century. The law enforcement agencies simply do not have the resources to deploy against the fraudsters when you consider the size and cost of cyber crime globally," he said.

Sheeley highlighted a recent report by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) which he said outlined the scale of the online fraud and cyber crime problem on a global scale. The report identified that the global annual cost of cyber crime was $445 billion.

"The total cost of various scams as identified by RBS was a drop in the ocean when compared with $445bn worldwide," Sheeley said. "However, if RBS has identified that the average cost of the fraud has gone up by 40% since 2014 then it is very worrying what impact that increase will have on the total cost of global fraud; could AGCS next year report annual costs of cyber crime being as much as $623bn?"

Sheeley also said he feared the scale of online fraud may be greater than is reported as a result of people's lack of awareness or reticence to report it. He said that whilst many banks currently refund losses customers sustain to fraud, there may come a stage where it is no longer affordable for them to do so as the issue of cyber crime reaches "an epidemic".