Chris Elmore MP has called for the scourge of “hidden fraudsters” to be exposed, in a bid to put pressure on the government to tackle the “scams epidemic” sweeping across the UK.
During a debate in Westminster Hall, the Ogmore MP called on ministers to make tackling online and telephone fraud a strategic policing priority. He hopes that this will deter “other fraudsters from cashing in” on communities.
ONS figures from the year ending December 2018 estimate that the number of fraud incidents increased 12 per cent on the period year and now stands at 3.6 million.
The Labour MP has recently been contacted by numerous constituents who have been targeted by increasingly sophisticated scams, with several losing vast sums up to £20,000. He was also approached by an alarmed constituent who received a scam phishing email using his own parliamentary email address.
Despite people being more likely to become a victim of fraud than any other type of crime, HM Inspectorate for the Constabulary found earlier this year that there was a “disjointed and ineffective” approach to tackling the problem by police forces across England and Wales.
Speaking following the debate, Chris Elmore MP said:
“Just as the last Labour Government was tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, it’s now time that we got tough on hidden crime.
“There is an epidemic of scams sweeping across the country and I know South Wales is a particular hotspot. Every week in my email inbox and during my advice surgeries, I’m contacted by constituents who have been targeted using increasingly sophisticated techniques.
“The criminals who sit behind a computer or a phone and think they are immune from the law need to be exposed as the hidden fraudsters they are.
“The fact that many of these scams are clearly targeted at elderly and vulnerable people shows just how low these cowards will stoop in pursuit of a quick buck.
“Sadly, in far too many cases, these scams are taking larger and larger sums from people and in many instances they can never recoup this money.
“With many of my communities still suffering under ten years of Tory austerity, this additional pressure on their finances can push them to breaking point.”
The Ogmore MP called on the government to:
make tackling online and telephone scams a strategic policing priority and ensure they have the resources to do so;
provide an urgent update from the UK Government on the progress being made by the Joint Fraud Task Force;
create a new targeted, innovative and specific public awareness campaign focussed on older people to encourage them to identify and report cyber and telephone crime;
provide increased funding for trading standards to help tackle the problem and ensure they can better integrate with other services (e.g. the police and adult social care services); and
provide an update on the effectiveness of the pension cold call ban, which came into force in January 2019.