UK Law Enforcers Arrest 400 in Major Fraud Crackdown

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UK police have arrested hundreds of suspects and seized £19m ($15m) as part of an ongoing crackdown on rampant fraud in the country.

Now in its third iteration, Operation Henhouse was coordinated again by the National Economic Crime Centre and City of London Police.

Activity in February and March led to 438 arrests, 211 voluntary interviews, £13.9m seized in cash and assets, and account freezing orders of £5.1m, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The agency teamed up with all UK police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs), alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Serious Fraud Office and National Trading Standards.

Among the highest value assets seized were an £80,000 Porsche, a £70,000 BMW and a £15,000 Rolex watch.

Read more on fraud: UK Court Backlog Blocks Attempts to Fight Fraud Epidemic.

Police Scotland, supported by Greater Manchester Police and the North West ROCU, arrested and charged two men in connection with a fraudulent banking scheme. And the South West ROCU made eight arrests in connection with an organized crime group suspected of stealing nearly £8m from victims – including £4.1m from a single individual.

The UK is experiencing a fraud epidemic. The NCA claimed that 40% of all reported crime is fraud, amounting to around £6.8bn annually. An estimated four-fifths of reported fraud is cyber-enabled.

 “Henhouse is proof of what policing and wider law enforcement across the UK can achieve when we come together. The emotional harm that fraud causes is immense, and many of those targeted are faced with devastating and life changing losses,” said director of the NCA’s National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), Adrian Searle.

“Fraud investigations take place all year round, but campaigns like Henhouse not only demonstrate how far we will go to pursue those who commit fraud, but also how successful we can be when we work closely with our partners across the country.”

However, the government has been frequently criticized for not devoting enough resources to a problem which think tank RUSI described as a threat to national security.

Last year, Operation Henhouse led to 290 arrests and the seizure or freezing of over £6m.

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