Law enforcers call for central e-crime unit

Law enforcers call for central e-crime unit

Scotland Yard police chief adds voice to growing calls for a new NHTCU-style agency

A leading internet crime police chief has renewed calls for a dedicated UK police unit to tackle web security threats, reach out to industry and liaise with international law enforcement agencies.

Speaking at the annual Retail Business Show in London this week, detective superintendent Charlie McMurdie, head of e-crime at the Met, argued that policing has not kept up with the rapid pace of change in internet use.

"We need to put more resources online and get organised like the criminals," McMurdie said. "At the moment there's no [central] point of contact if we want to work with other law enforcement [agencies] or if you're a victim of attack."

McMurdie said that while the advent of the forthcoming National Fraud Reporting Centre would be a positive move in coordinating intelligence behind fraud, a central unit was still required to deal with enforcement. She added that the unit should also be charged with alerting the public about any widespread online scams, and reaching out to national and international law enforcement agencies – very similar objectives to those of the previous National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

"Traditional policing is very geographically focused, and if you reported [internet fraud] they might not know what you're talking about," McMurdie explained. "If you can get coordinated intelligence that there are 2,000 other people who have [fallen for the same scam] then we can do something with it."

Elsewhere at the show, ex-fraudster Elliot Castro, who spent over two years in jail for offline and online offences, agreed that the police currently do not put enough emphasis on fraud prevention.

"Fraud is considered a white collar crime so there's not as much risk involved because the police don't put as much time into it," Castro explained. "I'm not even sure if the banks are that worried about it … there was only one bank that I couldn't penetrate at all."

Although Castro acknowledged that retailers have done a lot to improve their fraud detection methods, he warned that fraud would only continue to grow as the number of cardholders increases.

"Fraudsters get it quite easy in prison, because it's viewed as a non-threatening crime," he added. "So in that respect [the prison system] doesn't work."

In related news, the growth in online fraud was again highlighted this week by new research from life assistance firm CPP Group which found that four in ten fraud victims suffered online fraud.