Met Police Tackling 200 Organized Crime Groups

London’s Metropolitan Police are struggling to take on over 200 organized online fraud groups and plan to create new “volume crime hubs” to improve reporting channels for individuals and businesses in the capital, according to a new report.

Head of the Met’s new cybercrime division, Detective Chief Superintendent Jayne Snelgrove, told the Evening Standard that London’s police force deals with over 50,000 fraud reports each year, yet the problem is still massively under-reported.

Her division, which is part of the FALCON initiative, has apparently made 100 arrests already since its official launch last month and is in the early stages of 18 investigations including e-commerce fraud, courier scams and investment fraud, the report claimed.

A major focus will be on making it easier for businesses and individuals to report fraud directly to the Met. In the past, reports went through Home Office-run body Action Fraud, but there have been complaints that police follow-ups have been slow.

“There has been a lot of concern that if people have reported fraud, it has gone into a black hole,” Snelgrove told the paper.

“Many people tell us it is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the amount of crime.  I think it is significantly under-reported and we want to give people in London, businesses and individual victims, the confidence to report and assure them there will be a policing response at the end of it.”

The two volume crime hubs planned so far will be located in Peckham and Edmonton, with at least one more to follow in west London and another east of the city.

Online fraud is particularly prevalent on sites like eBay and Gumtree, where cyber-criminals make contact with their victims and then lure them to another channel to complete a deal, she said.

“The fraudsters are very sophisticated and very manipulative and for some larger amounts of money they will spend weeks, or months, socially engineering someone, often giving assurances and giving evidence of who they are to corroborate their story,” she added.

Charles Sweeney, CEO of web security firm Bloxx, agreed that cybercrime in general is seriously under-reported.

“This is indicative of a lack of belief by victims that law enforcement will have the resources and expertise to investigate and solve the crime,” he told Infosecurity.

“The portrayal of cyber-criminals in the media is often that they are faceless geniuses capable of committing the perfect online crime and then disappearing. The new unit has to tackle this head on, change perceptions and demonstrate that cyber-criminals can be caught if it is to affect real change."

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