Coronavirus Fraud

  • 29 May 2020
  • Blog | Financial Crime Prevention | Blog | Coronavirus Resource

Banking industry supports crackdown on coronavirus fraudBanking industry supports crackdown on coronavirus fraud. 

Banks are working with mobile phone networks, cybersecurity experts and specialist police to crack down on fraud linked to COVID-19. 

Scam text messages impersonating 50 genuine brands and government organisations are being blocked as part of a cross-industry initiative involving the UK mobile industry, banking and finance sector and the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which provides guidance and support on computer security threats.

“The UK Government’s recent mass-text campaign on COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for such industry collaboration in order to protect consumers from these kind of scams,” said NCSC Technical Director, Dr Ian Levy.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, the trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector, said: “Banks are joining forces with other industries and law enforcement to protect the public from cruel coronavirus scams. We would urge consumers to be on their guard against criminals exploiting the COVID-19 outbreak to commit fraud.”

Disrupting fraud

At the time of writing, 400 unauthorised sender identities were being blocked to prevent them being used to send scam text messages mimicking trusted organisations.

The initiative is backed by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum, a global trade body representing the sector, and Mobile UK, the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators – BT/EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

A dedicated police unit sponsored by the banking industry is also successfully targeting and disrupting the criminal gangs involved in sending COVID-19 related scam texts and emails to unsuspecting members of the public.

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), which is made up of officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police, has executed three search warrants in Leicestershire, Dorset and South East London, identified several suspects and seized mobile phones and other devices.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson said: “Working closely with the banks and mobile phone companies, we are successfully cracking down on the criminals using the COVID-19 outbreak to defraud vulnerable members of the public.

“This sends a clear message to those callously seeking to exploit this national crisis to commit fraud: we will track you down and bring you to justice.”

In 2019, the DCPCU prevented £31.2m of fraud and disrupted 23 organised criminal groups.

Consumers are being reminded to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.