In the UK, if you are the victim of a computer crime you are advised to contact Action Fraud.
Action Fraud farms out the calls it receives – from those, for instance, who have been scammed or had their computers infected by ransomware – to an external call centre. It’s then Action Fraud’s job to decide which crimes are worth reporting to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau for investigation.
In recent months serious questions have been raised about whether British victims of cybercrime are getting the support they deserve from Action Fraud.
According to an undercover probe earlier this year, staff on the Action Fraud helpline have mocked victims by referring to them as “morons” and “psychos”, and tricked victims into thinking their cases will be investigated when most are never looked at again.
Watching the undercover filming you cannot help but get the feeling that the authorities have pretty much given up trying to fight the majority of online crime, and that the Action Fraud helpline is largely for show.
That opinion is growing more popular, as proven by the creation of a parody Twitter account for Action Fraud (called, appropriately, @InactionFraudUK.)
Earlier this month, a senior police officer who asked to remain anonymous told the consumer group Which? that of the approximately 650 cybercrime reports filed to Action Fraud each month from his force’s area, only ten cases were passed on for investigation.
And yet, still victims of cybercrime are being told to contact Action Fraud.
Just in the last few days, for instance, Commander Karen Baxter, the national co-ordinator for economic crime at the City of London police which runs Action Fraud, went on BBC TV’s “Rip Off Britain” show to encourage those who have suffered at the hands of online criminals to contact the service.
Commander Karen Baxter talks to #RipOffBritain at 9.30am about how important it is to report to @actionfrauduk. This helps police to build an intelligence picture, disrupt active frauds & bring fraudsters to justice pic.twitter.com/n4CakjlKGK
— City of London Police (@CityPolice) October 18, 2019
But, as The Register reported today, official statistics reveal only 20,329 cybercrime offences were referred by Action Fraud to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in the 12 months to June this year – a figure massively overshadowed by the Office of National Statistics’ official Crime Survey for England and Wales which estimates the number of computer misuse offences at 977,000.
If the survey’s figures are correct, only 2% of computer misuse crimes are passed on to the actual police who could investigate them.
Is it any wonder people don’t bother reporting cybercrime to Action Fraud if they believe they won’t be treated with respect and taken seriously, and if the chances that the crime they have suffered will be investigated are so minuscule?