The News's consumer expert slams ONS data for failing to reveal the police's lack of response to financial crime

Richard Thomson from Gosport.

Picture: Sarah Standing (250221-1624)
Richard Thomson from Gosport. Picture: Sarah Standing (250221-1624)

Advanced payment scams where thieves target individuals and defraud them out of many thousands of pounds are invariably not routinely investigated.

He said: “Despite fraud accounting for 40 per cent of all crime, traumatised victims have been left with nowhere to go to resolve issues with goods and services they’ve purchased leaving them exposed to annual detriment currently in excess of £2bn.

“The stark truth is almost all fraud in England and Wales is not a priority. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t get reported and is hard to prove, taking time, resources, and money. It’s a Cinderella crime lacking merit for proper investigation.

“Consumer fraud has a common get out of jail clause frequently cited by the police and Action Fraud about the question of whether it is a civil or criminal matter. It leaves the interpretation door wide open to how it is viewed and justification to decline involvement. Criminals are left free to scam victims with impunity, un-investigated and un-deterred.

“Government must level with the public and have an honest national conversation about why fraud investigators wriggle out of their responsibility for enforcing the criminal law to crack down on financial crime.

“It’s time for a radical rethink. We must never forget we are all consumers. We should never have to face an uphill battle recovering money from criminals that can lead to serious debt and mental health problems.”