Specialist police unit prevents £20m of fraud in 2020

A specialist police unit funded by the banking and finance industry prevented almost £20m of fraud in 2020.

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) also arrested over 100 suspected criminals last year, including several involved in scams exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unit targets the organised criminal gangs responsible for fraud and is made up of officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police Service, as well as staff from UK Finance.

New figures show that 54 criminals were convicted following successful DCPCU investigations, with a total of 50 years in prison handed out to defendants in fraud cases investigated by the unit. The convictions include a criminal involved in a large-scale campaign sending out fake text messages claiming to offer tax refunds from the government due to the pandemic.

Other successful operations by the unit include the sentencing of a cheque fraud gang to a combined total of over 24 years in prison, and the jailing of a courier scam fraudster who spent £5,000 in a two-day period on cards stolen from three elderly victims.

Close collaboration with social media and telecommunications partners enabled the DCPCU to take down 731 social media accounts linked to fraudulent activity, while the DCPCU also seized £2.59m of assets from criminal gangs, recovering 18,175 compromised card numbers from active criminal gangs.

Head of the DCPCU, Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, commented: “Criminal gangs have callously targeted people’s finances and anxieties during a year which proved uniquely difficult for many.

“I am proud that we have successfully targeted those behind these despicable crimes by quickly adapting our work to the operational challenges posed by the pandemic.

“The DCPCU remains on the frontline in protecting the public against economic crime. By working closely with the banking industry and other partners we are continuing cracking down on those responsible for coronavirus-related fraud, with multiple arrests in recent weeks of individuals believed to be involved in coronavirus vaccine scams.”

UK Finance confirmed that the unit is continuing to protect the public against fraud and is currently investigating more than 150 live cases, including several scams related to the pandemic.

“The DCPCU’s impressive results in the face of COVID-19 are an important example of the banking industry’s close collaboration with law enforcement to stop the criminals seeking to steal customers’ money,” added UK Finance managing director of economic crime, Katy Worobec.

“The banking and finance industry’s partnership with the DCPCU is an important part of our arsenal to protect the public from fraud. The successes with social media and telecommunication partners show what can be achieved when all sectors collaborate in a united front against this threat.”

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