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According to the Government, fraud is the most common crime, accounting for over 40% of all offences in England and Wales. Figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales reveal that there were 3.7 million incidents of fraud in England and Wales in the year ending December 2022. This peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 4.64 million incidents being reported. The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimate that 86% of fraud instances go unreported, that the scale of fraud “is very significant” and that “under-reporting also hampers our understanding of the threat”. According to the NCA, fraud is increasingly committed online. Where previously a fraud may have been committed by phone, post or in person, “online access enables fraudsters to exploit victims remotely, often from another country”. The City of London Police estimates that 70% of fraud originates abroad or has an international element.

On 3 May 2023, the Home Office launched its new Fraud Strategy in which it recognised that fraud has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The aim of the Strategy is to “set out a plan to stop fraud at source and pursue those responsible wherever they are in the world”. The Strategy sets out a number of ambitions, including to “cut fraud by 10% from 2019 levels”, aiming to reduce the number of frauds committed to 3.33 million by the end of this Parliament. The Strategy sets out a number of ways in which it will tackle fraud, including:

  • Banning cold calls on all financial products
  • Banning sim farms
  • Stop people from “hiding behind fake companies and create new powers to take down fraudulent website”
  • Launching a new national fraud squad with over 400 new specialist investigators
  • Lead a new global partnership to “relentlessly pursue fraudsters through better investigation and prosecution processes for fraud and digital offences”