• United States



UK Editor

UK government launches new fraud strategy to crack down on scammers

May 03, 20234 mins

UK gets tough with fraudsters with plans to outlaw SIM farms, cut number spoofing, and ban financial product cold calls.

The UK government has unveiled their new Fraud Strategy: Stopping Scams and Protecting the Public to tackle cybercrime carried out by scammers and fraudsters. Announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the strategy includes a new National Fraud Squad led by the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police along with increased international collaboration to make greater use of the UK’s intelligence community to identify and disrupt more fraudsters overseas.

Last month, a report from behavioural biometric intelligence and digital fraud detection company BioCatch found that 52% of digital retail banking fraud cases reported across EMEA in 2022 in were due to scams.

Fraud strategy to outlaw SIM farms, cut number spoofing, ban cold calls

Fraud now accounts for over 40% of crime and costs the UK nearly £7 billion a year, with proceeds funding organised crime and terror, Sunak said. What’s more, new technologies are making these scams easier to do and harder to police. “It’s time to take the fight to the scammers and fraudsters and put an end to these crimes which can devastate lives and livelihoods within seconds,” Sunak added.

The UK’s new anti-fraud strategy will include:

  • Outlawing so-called “SIM farms,” technical devices that allow criminals to scam texts to thousands of people at the same time.
  • Working with the Office of Communications (Ofcom) to stop more cases of number spoofing, where scammers impersonate UK numbers and trick people into thinking they’re speaking to banks, telephone companies, or other legitimate businesses.
  • Banning cold calls on all financial products, so that anyone who receives calls trying to sell them products such as cryptocurrency schemes or insurance will know it’s a scam.

Furthermore, the government will invest £30 million in a state-of-the-art reporting centre which will be up and running in the year, Sunak said. “We’re also working with tech companies to make it as simple as possible to report fraud online. Regardless of which social media platform you are on, you should be able to find the ‘report’ button within a single click.” Banks are likely to be given more time to process payments, too, with the aim of allowing suspicious payments to be investigated and stopping people from falling victim to fraudsters.

City of London Police welcomes government’s new fraud prevention strategy

The City of London Police, the national policing lead for fraud, has welcomed the government’s new Fraud Strategy. “We welcome this strategy and the much-needed investment to support our collective efforts to tackle fraud,” said Commissioner Angela McLaren. “As the national lead force for fraud, we want to do everything in our power, working with law enforcement and private sector partners across the UK, to protect people from this callous crime.”

With more than half of all crime being fraud and cyber related, this strategy is essential to policing, added Assistant Commissioner Pete O’Doherty. “We tackle and coordinate some of the most complex fraud cases across the country, but the national policing response to economic crime has been under-powered. This new strategy, with fraud now being included in the Strategic Policing Requirement, means that we can improve and coordinate the local to national response in order to stop fraudsters and better protect victims, ending the misery and devastation criminals cause.” 

Fraud strategy targeted to individuals, not business

The government seems fixated on instilling the public with confidence with their new Fraud Squad initiative and upcoming Online Safety Bill. However, the strategy is focused more on helping individuals than businesses, says Jake Moore, global cybersecurity advisor at ESET, tells CSO.

“Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies are well aware that tackling cybercrime and fraud is extremely difficult let alone investigating evidence, so it remains more about awareness and disruption than prosecutions. More attention is required with helping businesses protect their livelihoods from increasingly more sophisticated online crime, but again there has been too little too late in signs of support which can damage businesses and throws the onus back on them to survive these threats.”

UK Editor

Michael Hill is the UK editor of CSO Online. He has spent the past five-plus years covering various aspects of the cybersecurity industry, with particular interest in the ever-evolving role of the human-related elements of information security. A keen storyteller with a passion for the publishing process, he enjoys working creatively to produce media that has the biggest possible impact on the audience.

More from this author