The Implications of Economic Cybercrime for Policing: Research report, City of London Corporation

Michael Levi, Alan Doig, Rajeev Gundur, David Wall, Matthew Williams

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


London, as one of the world’s leading financial centres, had a daily turnover in the foreign exchange market of £2,626 billion in April 2013 - all dependent on a highly interconnected electronic infrastructure and supporting technology. Yet this same technology that underpins and enables these global transactions also opens up businesses and individuals to new risks, in particular relating to cybercrime.
The introduction of sophisticated technology has brought about a step-change in the way economic crime is committed – enabling frauds to be perpetrated at scale, at great speed, and at a distance, with no physical contact necessary between criminal and victim. It can be much harder to identify the individuals initiating crime, and often the location will be outside UK jurisdiction. These factors have resulted in a sharp escalation of such activities in recent years, bringing new challenges for policing and industry in preventing and tackling such crime.
The City of London Police is the National Policing Lead for Economic Crime, and is playing a key role in proactively addressing these challenges including developing a national strategy. One major challenge has been coordinating information about criminal activity where this can be geographically widely dispersed. In addition to investigating some of the most serious frauds in the country, the City of London Police hosts the national reporting database – Action Fraud. This current research piece undertakes new analysis of data held by Action Fraud and its partner unit, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) also hosted by the City of London Police. It finds that between October and December 2014 alone there were 106,681 reported fraud cases, a third of which related to banking and credit industry frauds. The median amount lost to fraudsters across all fraud types ranged from £112 lost through misuse of contracts in the telecom industry, to £38,974 lost from pension fraud. However the annual 250,000 crime reports received present only a limited view of several million crimes that are taking place within the UK annually to the cost of some £30billion. Under-reporting presents a challenge both in terms of research and policy responses.
City of London Police initiatives to reduce fraud include training both the private and public sector in specialist skills through their Economic Crime Academy, piloting a focused victim care unit in London – the Economic Crime Victim Care Unit - and working closely with law enforcement across the UK to share information and co-ordinate action. Most importantly they include the formation of new national police fraud and cyber strategies focused on prevention at a national and local level.
This research report highlights the necessity of working in partnership, both around primary prevention and building in security protection, and working with other agencies to disrupt criminal activities and pursue and prosecute offenders.
Even with these initiatives, there is much more to do. Economic cybercrime is evolving rapidly, at a scale and speed never before seen. This report provides new data and analysis around the scale of this activity and offers a comprehensive view of the challenges facing the policing and law enforcement responses. It appraises the success of different approaches to preventing and addressing crime, and presents practical suggestions with a focus on partnership working, education and awareness-raising, information-sharing across industry, and intelligence-led policing. As such it is a timely piece of valuable research that can help to shape future policies focussed on combatting the growing threat of cybercrime.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon, United Kingdom
PublisherCity of London Corporation
Commissioning bodyCity of London Corporation
Number of pages96
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


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