A police unit funded by the banking and finance industry has observed a 78 per cent drop in social media accounts linked to fraudulent activity in the first six months of 2021.

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), which is funded by the banking and finance industry and is made up of officers from the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police Service, took down 125 accounts between January and June this year, compared to 575 in the first half of 2020.

Trade body UK Finance, which also has colleagues sit in the unit, said the accounts were linked to people posting fake adverts for products as well as to recruit money mules.

The trade body said criminals often recruit money mules by posing as an employee advertising a job such as “payment processing agent”, “money transfer agent” or “local processor”.

It said: “We don’t think there is one particular reason for the decrease [in accounts this year] but the unit’s focus switched into identifying those responsible for exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit said it worked in “close collaboration” with social media and telecommunications partners to take down the scam accounts.

The unit also arrested 67 suspected criminals between January and June. Some 49 of these have since been convicted. It also “disrupted” 24 organised criminal gangs.

Among those it sentenced this year was one criminal who sent “thousands” of scam Covid-19 vaccination texts…

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