Sheffield councilor wonders what more can be done to tackle UK ‘fraud tsunami’


Councilor Joe Otten raised the issue at a Sheffield Council review meeting this week following his own bad experiences.

He said: “There is a tsunami of fraud going on in this country.

“When I had a landline, most of the calls I received were attempted fraud. Of the unsolicited contacts I receive on social media, most, if not almost all, are attempted fraud.

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Superintendent Simon Verrall of South Yorkshire Police speaks about fraud during a Sheffield Council review meeting.

“I appreciate that the police force is not made to deal with this. The skills and resources and powers that you need to detect and prosecute fraudsters, the organized crime gangs that commit these frauds, are not what officers are trained to do.

“It does not seem to me that there is a serious attempt to control the problem of fraud. Is there anything to do?

Superintendent Simon Verrall, of South Yorkshire Police, said the fraud was not flagged in local crime figures because it was no longer a ‘local crime’ as many fraudsters were targeting residents from abroad.

He added: “What can we do about it? All crimes are best dealt with through preventative measures, so detection is only part of the problem. We need to look at companies like Facebook and other social media, for example if people advertise scam schemes on these and phone networks.

Councilor Joe Otten raises concerns about fraud during a Sheffield Council meeting with South Yorkshire Police.

“During my 30 year career crime has had its ups and downs and what used to be what taxed me as a police officer when I started was mainly vehicle crime and burglary and now it’s is online crime, child exploitation and other things that are made possible by the Internet. Criminals will find a way to exploit whatever comes next.

“It’s the problem of fraud, but the best solution is prevention. For example, cell phone theft, which was a huge problem if you were going back a decade. Technology has now made stealing someone’s cell phone almost unnecessary. It will therefore be preventive measures that will be the solution to this, not detection measures. But I don’t have the solution today.

Councilor Otten replied: “If it worked some of the people trying to contact me would have given up by now, so it’s clearly not working, clearly more needs to be done. If there are blockages in the banks or in the mobile phone companies and the social media companies that they are not cooperating with enough, I think we should know about it and we could put pressure on it.

“I will continue to hope that we will find ways… Is there no way to proactively disrupt crime in terms of fraud?”

Superintendent Verrall said: “If I just say it, I’d be hard pressed to proactively disrupt a criminal gang operating out of Nigeria, that’s hard enough.”

On their website, South Yorkshire Police say that if you have been the victim of fraud, report it to the National Action Fraud Center at:

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