Even in a downturn there is always someone doing well. According to an eye-catching headline on The Lawyer news website today it is going to be a “bumper year” for fraud lawyers with many of the biggest cases scheduled in London courts this year involving a crime that does not get the attention it should.
In a speech in the City last night James Thomson, who chairs the City of London Police Authority Board, made the astonishing claim that while half of all offences in England and Wales fall under “fraud and economic crime” only 2% of police funding is dedicated to tackling it.
Fraud only rarely attracts the headlines generated by violent crime and physical theft and to some degree police resources will always follow public concern and outrage. But as Thomson argued fraudsters — sometimes acting on behalf of hostile states —are “endlessly innovative”.
Thomson, who also chairs the National Cyber Resilience Centre Group, said the City of London Police, the National Lead Force for fraud and cybercrime, had prevented nearly £750 million going into the pockets of fraudsters and secured 1000 convictions. Yet only £3 million of assets have been recovered and returned to victims.
Thomson wants proposed legislation in the Online Safety Bill to be toughened up to include a duty of care on businesses to prevent fraud. That may not be what those busy fraud lawyers want to hear but economic crime ultimately hits all of us through higher prices and insurance premiums. And that is the last thing we need during the misery of a cost-of-living crisis.