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Report: The Impact of the Emerging Private Security Sector

This report assesses the extent of changes within the security landscape and architecture of criminal investigations in the UK. It examines academic studies from the last forty years, media reports, interviews with those directly involved in the private security sector (PSS) and reports completed by state agencies responsible for inspecting and reviewing state governed Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA). It concludes that changes within criminal investigations have occurred and that the police and other LEAs are effectively pushing investigations into the domain of the PSS. The PSS are increasingly investigating crime traditionally the preserve of the police and LEAs, however, this is not occurring within a formalised setting. The change has not been recognised by those regulating and inspecting law enforcement nor is it being accepted by the police or other LEAs. Download Report

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Common Scams to Be Aware of in 2021

Fraud is on the rise, with the first half of 2020 seeing a 66% increase in scams, according to Barclays, safeguarding ourselves and our clients is more important than ever. We’ve identified some of the most common scams that you should be aware of.  Courier Companies Fraudsters are posing as parcel firms such as DPD and Royal Mail by sending customers emails claiming that they are unable to deliver their parcels.  The content of the email asks for their victims to provide up to date address details so that the parcel may be redelivered after paying a fee for redelivery.  Once the victim has entered their card details the phishing links are used to steal money directly from the account.   “Fake or scam emails are nearly always sent from a private email address and certainly not from an official DPD one,” DPD advises. “ Consumers should always check the sender’s email address and check the message has come from a valid DPD address i.e. dpd.co.uk, dpdlocal.co.uk or dpdgroup.co.uk. Any other sender email address, especially if the email is asking for money is highly likely to be a scam email. We have posted all this information on our website.” Paypal There have been numerous reports of scam emails coming from Paypal stating there has been unusual spending on accounts. It then asks people to access the link in the email by entering card details for added protection. A new SMS phishing scam has also been reported as of late. Under the guise of ‘Paypal’ scammers are sending text messages to their potential victims informing them that their accounts have been permanently limited. It then attempts to steal account information by inviting the victim to enter their details.  DVLA The DVLA has reported a 531% increase in scam emails sent between June and September 2020, compared to the same period last year. These scams involve asking drivers to verify their driving licence details while also asking for bank details to process fake tax refunds. During the last 3 months of 2019, DVLA revealed that there was a 20% increase in scams that were reported to their call centre.  HMRC An automated phone call advising that HMRC are filing lawsuits against people has duped many victims. During the call, people are asked to press a number and speak to an operative. HMRC never contact individuals through this medium and are aware of these types of scams. In addition to this, other scams regarding tax refunds that have also been sent via text messages. HMRC Phishing scams telling you that you can claim a tax refund to help protect yourself from coronavirus. Coronavirus Scams Even a global pandemic won’t stop fraudsters from committing crimes. A coronavirus scam that has come to light is an SMS message that has been sent to thousands of individuals across the country. It claims that a goodwill payment of £258 will be issued by HMRC, as part of a promise by the NHS in their battle with the Covid 19 virus. Fake emails are also circulating from the NHS Track and Trace. They offer people fast track vaccinations for a fee. According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), 600,000 reports about scams had been logged about scam emails in the first three months of the pandemic. Banking Many victims are being caught out by phone calls from scammers pretending to be from a bank. They claim that your account is at risk and ask for your card and PIN. Due to security issues, banks will never ask for any sensitive information. If you receive such a call do not use the number the scammers provide you with. Hang-up your phone and, if possible, call your bank from another phone. Another method being used are scam calls that claim to be from your bank or a police officer advising that someone has been arrested using your card details in a store. They then ask you to confirm your card details. Computer and Internet Scams Impersonators of BT Openreach and Microsoft are some of the biggest scams around. A common extortion practice is to convince victims that their computer or account is at risk, or that they have detected a virus. Following on from this they ask you to download anti-virus software. This software then turns out to be spyware used to access your personal details. Were You Involved in a Car Accident? Calls asking about recent car accidents are on the up. This scam call asks whether people have been involved in a road accident, claiming that they are entitled to compensation.  Scammers have access to software that mimics an official telephone number so it can be seen on your caller display. Be aware that this may not be a genuine number. You can often check these numbers via a Google search.   What to Look Out For Look out for poor grammar and punctuation. Check to see if the web address is legitimate. Please do not click on any of the suspicious links.   What to Do Next Block the calls on your smartphone. If you have been caught out call your bank’s fraud department and report it straightaway. Talk to your phone provider and see what call blocking services they offer. Register with the telephone preference service. This service is free, you can opt-out of unsolicited live telesales calls. If you have received an email or call that you’re not sure about contact the company from the contact details listed on their website. Please report any incidents to report@phishing.co.uk 

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The Impact of Fraud on the Furlough Scheme

2021 is expected to show a huge increase in fraudulent offences, a sad knock-on effect of the pandemic. This is not only being committed by organised crime gangs but by seemingly legitimate companies.  The UK government has seen a further increase in business fraud, especially with the introduction of the job retention scheme (JRS), furlough scheme and the scheme for the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS). In September last year, HMRC stated that an estimated £3.5 billion – with the number ever-increasing – may have been fraudulently claimed or paid out in error. The true cost of this activity will not be known until at least the end of 2021. Investigations have revealed the extent of fraudulent claims from employers such as companies that claimed on behalf of staff that no longer worked for the company. These included those on maternity leave or in receipt of statutory sick payments. The remittances were not passed on to staff as they continued to work, not knowing that their employer had submitted JRS claims for them.  HMRC has come under criticism for not publishing a list of employers who have claimed JRS. Pressure has been mounting from both employees and the press to name and shame companies. This would help to prevent any further cases of false claims. HMRC are in the process of investigating high-risk cases and will no doubt carry on with their investigation into many known fraudulent activities. It is stated in the guidelines that investigations may take place within 5 years of the scheme or 20 years if fraud is suspected. In September 2020, HMRC reported that they had 27000 high-risk cases. Investigations into 11,000 of one-to-one cases started in October 2020. So far, three arrests have been made. As more inquiries take place there will be further penalties and convictions made. Potentially, more fraud cases will occur as a result of the JRS being extended until the end of April 2021. Although the scheme has been widely supported it has, unfortunately, been abused by some companies. If you know of or suspect potential fraudulent cases, they can be reported to the HMRC on 0800 788 887 or via the online portal www.tax.service.gov.uk HMRC Fraud Hotline -Information report form.

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