400,000 fraudsters could have been let off the hook due to IT failure

Up to 400,000 fraudsters could have been let off the hook due to an IT failure, consumer group warns

  • Fraud gangs may have got away with crimes because of system failure
  • Over 400,000 recorded cases were not passed on to police for 15 months
  • Which? has called on authorities to account for long breakdown in reporting 

Fraud gangs may have got away with crimes that raked in millions of pounds because of an IT failure in the system recording complaints from victims.

The problem meant there were delays of 15 months in passing on the details of up to 400,000 cases to the police, according to the consumer group Which?

The system for reporting fraud has been repeatedly accused of letting down victims with many complaining about a lack of action, feedback and support.

Any delay in passing the details of a scam means those involved remain free to continue to dupe and steal.

Which? said the failure stemmed from a breakdown in information shared between the National Fraud Database, maintained by Cifas, which describes itself as ‘the UK’s leading fraud prevention service’, and the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

The problem meant there were delays of 15 months in passing on the details of up to 400,000 cases to the police, according to the consumer group Which? (file photo)

Which? found the data was not automatically shared between the two from October 2018, when the City of London Police started developing a new crime-reporting service.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of cases may have been investigated without crucial pieces of evidence or, potentially, not at all.

Which? says that at least 300,000 crimes may not have been shared since the issue began, but that number could be as high as 400,000.

The findings are the latest in a series of alarming revelations about the system for investigating fraud – a crime estimated to have cost victims £2.2billion between April 2018 and March 2019. The real figure, however, is likely to be much higher as many victims do not report the crime.

Which? is calling for Cifas and City of London Police to account for the unacceptably long breakdown in fraud reporting. The editor of Which? Money, Jenny Ross, said: ‘The UK is in the grip of a fraud crisis and, with police already struggling with complex investigations, it beggars belief that one of the country’s most crucial reporting tools did not function properly for so long. 

‘People are suffering from the devastating financial and emotional impact of scams every day, and victims need to know the authorities are taking these crimes seriously. To restore public confidence it’s vital that the Government, industry and police work together effectively to show they are addressing serious flaws in the system.’

A City of London Police spokesman said the ‘technical difficulties’ which led to the problem had been resolved.

He added: ‘The vast majority of outstanding reports – over 95 per cent – have now been brought across, and new records are routinely feeding in on a daily basis.’

A spokesman for Cifas said that during the development of the new crime-reporting system it had ‘continued to support City of London Police by manually supplying data to support their investigations’.

He added: ‘The NFIB has recently confirmed that their new system has been implemented and Cifas data has now been uploaded successfully.’

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