NCA Celebrates Multimillion-Pound Fraud Takedowns

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The UK agency for serious and organized crime has revealed a month-long anti-fraud operation resulted in 290 arrests and the seizure or “restraint” of over £6m ($7.4m) in assets.

Operation Henhouse saw the National Crime Agency (NCA) team up with police forces across the country, including officers from Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs).

Among the cases highlighted by the agency were:

  • A fraud operation selling vehicles on eBay that didn’t exist. Victims were tricked into paying a deposit in order to view the vehicles and directed to a fake address. Six arrests were made in Rotherham, Doncaster and Hampshire, and £225,000 seized in cash and assets
  • The seizure of over 250 smartphones at an address in Stockport, which contained the details of over 2500 bank accounts suspected of being used to launder millions in the past 12 months. Two men were arrested and the accounts closed down
  • The identification of over 100 individuals by West Midlands Police suspected of being money mules, who were issued with cease-and-desist notices
  • The arrest of two men in north London suspected of opening bank accounts for money laundering. One was charged
  • An investment fraud scheme where individuals were contacted to buy apartments off-plan, but the projects were never completed, costing victims £8m ($9.9m). Five were arrested
  • An international PPE fraud scheme profiting from shortages during the pandemic. Three were arrested

Read more on UK fraud: Think Tank Warns of “Silent Stealing” Fraud.

Nik Adams, commander of the City of London Police, which leads the UK’s fraud policing, argued that collaboration was key to the success of the operation.

“It’s through activity like Operation Henhouse, as well as ongoing collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and the private sector, that we are able to make significant inroads into tackling organized crime activity and protect the public from the scourge of fraud,” he added.

“We will look to build on the success of Operation Henhouse over the next 12 months, so momentum in disrupting fraudulent activity continues.”

However, in reality the UK is struggling to contain a huge surge in increasingly cyber-enabled fraud. As far back as 2021, think tank RUSI argued that a new government-led approach was needed to tackle what is now a national security issue threatening social and economic stability, and fuelling organized crime and terrorism.

It called for a “whole of system” response, including a clearer role for private sector firms, more resources and capabilities to be built-up in the police force, and a more explicit mandate for GCHQ.

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