The e-fraud unit? You’re looking at him

The shocking lack of police resources to tackle e-fraud was comically exposed at the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) annual parliamentary forum in Westminster.

The e-fraud unit? You're looking at him

The forum, which brought together industry leaders and politicians to discuss internet security, provoked lively, and occasionally fractious, debate between the two sides.

However, the unexpected highlight of the evening arrived when one member of the audience complained that his elderly mother’s local police force failed to deal with her complaints about unsavoury spam messages.

This prompted a fellow member of the audience to introduce himself as an officer from the Metropolitan Police’s Fraud Alert Unit, and invited the complainant to forward her messages to him at [email protected] Yet as the officer candidly admitted: “When I say Fraud Alert Unit, you’re looking at him. I receive 400-600 emails a day. I have about 45 seconds to read and react to them – that’s if I don’t take lunch.”

Potentially illegal spam wasn’t the only e-crime audience members claimed the police weren’t taking seriously. One representative from an internet telephony company claimed he had evidence of calls being made over his service that could have potential links to crime, and even terrorism, but claimed he was unable to find anyone prepared to investigate his allegations. “We’ve had trouble trying to report credit card accounts used to set up fraudulent email accounts,” added Matthew Henton, head of marketing at ISP Brightview.

Lord Broers, chair of the Lords Science and Technology Committee, which is currently running an inquiry into personal internet security, admitted the police may be stretched when it comes to investigating internet crime. “The problem has been triggered by the expansion of broadband. There’s been an explosion in spam and phishing. The police… are probably already under-resourced,” he claimed.

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