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News from 2015

December 2015 ~ Time for self-regulation?

“In 1952, a deputation from the Association of British Investigators lobbied Parliament for recognition and statutory control” said ABI Governing Council member, Dick Smith of IPFGB, in addressing a business meeting in Birmingham. “It then took 49 years for government to pass the Act and a further 14 years for the responsible statutory body to reach the trailblazing milestone of “maybe”.
“The Association of British Investigators already regulates its members in respect of appropriate checks on criminal convictions, insurance, data protection registration, practical ability and references, coupled with academic qualification, which it strongly encourages,” he continued. “As a starting point and as an example, if all lawyers insisted on instructing only ABI members, then this would form the basis for self-regulation. Those investigators who aspire to be professional and law-abiding would strive to meet those conditions and join the association.”

November 2015 ~ SIA review . . . . . “PI regulation . . . maybe?”

Alan Clamp became the new CEO of the Security Industry Authority in the summer and in his first review, he totally omitted any reference to business licensing, which had been postponed by the coalition government. But it was in relation to Private Investigators that there was frustration with the word “maybe” creeping into the current mind-set.
It is 14 years since the Private Security Industry Act was passed and despite the Home Secretary having promised licensing following the Levison Inquiry into phone-hacking, Clamp is clearly admitting defeat. “The challenge is that no one can quite agree on what they (PIs) are,” he said.
There are conspiracy theorists within the Police Family who seriously contend that certain security industry conglomerates, already hand-in-glove with the Home Office, are encouraging a “stall” situation in relation to PI licensing. The motive?: they are waiting for the day when the stringent cuts to police resources, coupled with regular criticisms regularly “planted” in the media, will pave the way for policing in this country to be outsourced in its entirety.

November 2015 ~ “Change your passwords frequently!”

“Just a single event can result in brand reputation damage of staggering proportions.” said Dick Smith of IPFGB, addressing a meeting of business people in Bath, UK. “You need look no further than the events last week at TalkTalk. Eastern European criminal gangs are already buying their customers’ data at £1.62 a shot! These account holder details go to join others of offer on the Dark Web . . . for example Halifax, Vodafone, O2, EE, Sky, BT Sport and Amazon. But if you trade on the web, your customers can help you protect your business. They need to be educated to make it harder for the criminal. Encourage them to change passwords frequently and never use the same password across the spectrum of online services and stores.”

October 2015 ~ Cyber/IT crime now third biggest risk to commerce

In risk importance, Allianz has rated business/supply chain interruptions first, followed by natural disasters, significantly followed by cybercrime, IT failures, espionage and data breaches. With global cybercrime and espionage now topping $445 billion (£288bn), every company, large or small, is in danger of attack.

October 2015 ~ “7 million UK cyber-crimes a year!”

The first official estimate of the scale of offences in the UK suggests that more than 20,000 fraud and cyber-crimes are committed every day; (Crime Survey for England and Wales). In addition, there were an estimated 2.5 million incidents which fall under the Computer Misuse Act, such as hacking attacks. Police quote: “This shows how the internet is changing the nature of crime.”
The announcement was made on the same day that a City of London Police backed official study suggested “hard decisions” should be made if victims admitted they did not follow security advice. “Victims who failed to take precautions against cyber-crime should be treated as a lower priority by police than others who have acted to improve their own security,” the report proposed.

September 2015 ~ “Around 26,000 incidents are currently reported to ‘Action Fraud’ each month” . . . .

. . . . said DI Chris Felton of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, addressing a seminar organised by the ABI at Oxford. “Of these, approximately 10,000 are converted into actual crimes and 6,000 sent for investigation by Police Forces etc. Around a third of these go the Met, where between 200 and 300 officers are detailed as investigators. Of the remainder, and due to resources available, on average only one in five get investigated!”

September 2015 ~ ‘Action Fraud’ reporting back on track

Following the collapse in July of the private company which was managing the ‘Action Fraud’ phonelines and website, a contract has been awarded to a new operator which has opened two dedicated call-centres in Scotland and N Ireland. From experience already, IPFGB can testify that this new system appears to be operating very efficiently. “The previous regime was generally accepted within Law Enforcement as an unmitigated disaster,” said Dick Smith. “One can only hope that the standard of investigation from this point onwards matches this encouraging development.”

August 2015 ~ investigation training investigated!

At the behest of the Association of British Investigators, IPFGB has been voluntarily carrying out enquiries in relation to two business entities which have been offering detective training followed by a guarantee of lucrative work. Victims have been contacting the ABI, trying to establish the credibility of these outfits. IPFGB has been liaising closely with National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and Trading Standards.

August 2015 ~ Fraud statistics show rise in value ~ KPMG

Analysis of fraud cases above £100k reaching UK courts revealed a rise of 22% in the first half of 2015 compared to last year. Whereas the number of cases remained the same, it was the value which rose. ‘Middle man’ fraud, where the criminal has inserted himself into the supply chain, accounted for a 242% rise to £99m. However, it is company managers, those with responsibility, who have driven the growth of fraud, accounting for 68% of fraud by value in the first half of 2015 compared with 22% in 2014.

August 2015 ~ IQ Level 3 awards

In anticipation of the mandatory training requirements of the SIA, IPFGB is pleased to announce that Dick Smith and Greg Smith have each achieved the national IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF). There is widely held concept that the SIA will demand Level 3 as the standard for licensing.

July 2015 ~ Licensing . . . . new personalities, same old story!

SIA Chairman, Elizabeth France, held her first meeting with her new Home Office Minister of State and gave no indication that there would be an end to the 14 year delay in introducing investigator licensing. Mike Penning, the minister who has charge of the SIA, was meeting Mrs France and the new SIA Chief Executive, Alan Clamp, and heard her say that there was a need for a change to the law through Parliament. She described the 2001 Act that set up the SIA as “pretty old”. “We would love an opportunity now for some fresh primary legislation,” she said. The procrastination of successive Governments over the regulation of private investigators, not least considering Home Secretary Theresa May’s promise two years ago, appeared set to continue with Mrs France speaking of it in terms of “maybe”.

July 2015 ~ The Home Office “regrets” . . . . . . .

The Home Secretary having (again) promised and failed to introduce investigator licensing in the last Parliament, the Association of British Investigators wrote to Ms May asking for an explanation. In a written response, the Home Office expressed a “regret” that time available prior to dissolution of Parliament prior to the election had precluded the possibility of introducing the measures. A spokesperson further stated, “Once Parliament has approved legislative requirements, the SIA will issue guidance about the application process, including mandatory training, ahead of the new licencing coming into force, to enable applicants sufficient time to undertake any required training.”

July 2015 ~ National Crime Agency annual strategic assessment

“The ready availability of criminal products and services on the internet, especially on the hidden internet, has produced a marketplace where criminals can operate with a high degree of anonymity.”

July 2015 ~ Sir Jon Murphy QPM addresses EPIC conference

The Chief Constable of Merseyside addressed the Ex-Police in Industry and Commerce conference in Liverpool;IPFGB was present. Sir Jon admitted that the ability of the Police to respond to crime in future will continue to decrease due to further massive cuts to their budget. He suggested that individuals within that industry, (particularly EPIC members), should make greater efforts to promote the integrity they have to offer and strive for a higher profile.

July 2015 ~ Innovation & Skills’ 2015 Information Security Breaches

The Department of Business latest survey results have been published. The results could have been predicted and include:
90% of large organisations reported suffering a security breach, (up from 81% in 2014);
74% of small businesses had a security breach, (up from 60% a year ago);
The average cost of a large organisation’s worst security breach is £1.46m – £3.14m, (up from £600k – £1.15m last year);
The average cost of a small business’s worst security breach is £75k – £311k, up from £65k, (£115k in 2014);
50% of the worst breaches in the year were caused by inadvertent human error, (up from 31% last year);
82% of respondents reported that their senior management places a high or very high priority on security, (up from 79% in 2014).

July 2015 ~ ABI in talks with ICO

The Association of British Investigators has had further discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office, exchanging views on a range of topics impacting both investigators and regulators. The talks also focused on the lack of Police attention or assistance received by the industry’s insurance and financial institution clients, which is why they turn to the private sector in such numbers. Read more at: www.theabi.org.uk/news/association-meet-with-information-commissioners-office

June 2015 ~ Selachii LLP blog ~ Licensing post-election

IPFGB has been pleased to carry out investigations on behalf of Selachii LLP, litigation and dispute resolution solicitors based in Notting Hill. Dick Smith writes about the continued lack of regulation in the investigation industry: www.selachii.co.uk/solicitors-blog/there-remains-a-lack-of-regulation-in-the-private-investigation-industry

June 2015 ~ UK fraud estimated at £2.1 billion per annum

The Annual Fraud Indicator produced by the Insurance Fraud Taskforce divides this figure into £1.7bn in hidden fraud loss, £392m in organised crash-for-cash fraud and £39 in unidentified insurance fraud.

June 2015 ~ Investigator Licensing ~ Scotland

BBC Radio announces it will be producing a documentary on the training of Private Investigators in Scotland. This follows indications from the Scottish Government that it would be pursuing a policy of bringing in new licensing regulations for Investigators in the UK “fairly soon”. Elizabeth Anne Duffy (BBC Radio Features) said, “I hope to be able to speak to someone about the training offered by the Association of British Investigators Academy about what licensing will mean for the industry and perhaps even reach out to some Scottish members who might be willing to talk to us about the training process.”
Comment: “Any progress in the battle to persuade UK Government to introduce our long-awaited licencing is welcome! We had Ireland announcing their intentions to proceed last month. If there is pressure coming from Scotland too, that’s just fine.” (Greg Smith, IPFGB director and ABI member.)

June 2015 ~ Covert Computer Monitoring Service

IPFGB is exploring alternative options to some of the Forensic IT services on offer. Naturally working completely within legal parameters, (e.g. with the authority of the owners of computers believed to be inappropriately used by others), IPFGB can arrange introduction of undetected software recording all actions on any relevant PC. Clients will be cognisant that they should take all reasonable steps to ensure they don’t see any personal information; no personal data will be included in any report. We can usually get the software setup within a few hours of the initial call if the matter is really urgent. The action is certainly cost effective as underperforming employees cost businesses thousands every year. This service gives clients information they need to make decisions but can sometimes show where employees are not following acceptable systems or procedures, allowing them to correct their behaviour rather than replacing them.

May 2015 ~ Spoof PayPal Emails

Lancashire Partnership Against Crime (LANPAC) warn that fraudsters often target ‘goods for sale’ adverts on popular online auctions sites. They will contact a seller to say that they want to buy the advertised item. The seller then receives what looks like a genuine PayPal email, confirming that the money has been paid by the buyer into their account. With confirmation of payment, the seller will then send the item to the buyer’s address. Of course, the money has not been paid. In order to protect themselves, sellers should check their PayPal accounts to ensure that the money has cleared before sending the item.

May 2015 ~ Media Streaming Scam

Discounted rate “subscriptions” for sale via eBay include Netflix, Spotify, Sky Go and Hulu. Victims might be unaware they are buying compromised account information. In the majority of cases the victim will attempt to log into their account, only to find that their details have not been registered. In attempting to login using such details, the victim is at risk of committing a hacking offence by continuing to access an account that clearly doesn’t belong to them. To verify their authenticity, contact the genuine service provider before taking advantage of any discounts offered.

May 2015 ~ Investigator Licencing ~ Ireland

Ireland’s Justice Minister has announced that, with effect from 1 November 2015, contractors providing security services as a private investigator will require a license from the Private Security Authority (PSA). The extension of licensing to private investigators is a major milestone for the PSA, which is an independent statutory body with responsibility for licensing and regulating the private security industry. This follows two years of development work including consultation with the industry. During that period, a number of successful prosecutions against Private Investigators have been achieved by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner following investigation into the activities of Private Investigators. “Some of the more undesirable activities and practices of the sector have been highlighted by these investigations and the need for regulation is evident,” said the Minister. “I am confident that the introduction of these Regulations will raise standards in the sector.”
Only those licensed by the PSA will be able to advertise or represent themselves as a Licensed Private Investigator. It will also be an offence for a person to engage or employ an unlicensed Private Investigator. The Authority maintains a register of both contractor and individual licence holders on its website, which is a useful tool for business and the public who can ensure that their security provider is licensed by checking the details on the register.
“Investigators operating within the law all want licencing,” said Greg Smith, IPFGB director and ABI member. “The ABI has been pressing for regulation for decades. We have had fourteen years of procrastination by successive UK Governments in implementing the Private Security Industry Act legislation in respect of investigators. We can but hope that this newly-elected lot will get their act together quickly!”

May 2015 ~ European Health Insurance Scam

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) entitles holiday makers to receive free or reduced cost care whilst travelling within the European Economic Area. These cards are free to European nationals, despite what some internet sites may suggest. When searching for EHIC card online, the most trustworthy sites do not necessarily come out on top; many search engines carry ads for third party websites, which often look like official government websites. Consumers who click on these ads often end up paying the operators of these ‘official-looking’ websites for something they could get for free from the National Health Service.

April 2015 ~ RAC warning over Auto Trader payment scams

IPFGB has been assisting the RAC in publicising and uncovering an ongoing scam, originating in Eastern Europe. “This has been going on for over a year and as soon as one fraudulent site is taken down, another appears,” said Dick Smith. “Used car markets are easy pickings for unscrupulous operators and here unsuspecting buyers are being drawn to bogus websites offering a secure deposit and payment system for private car purchases. The fraudsters will clone a genuine car ad so that any checks on registration plate etc will confirm the existence of the vehicle. Using an untraceable mobile number in the ad they will offer the vehicle at a knock-down price to attract a quick sale,” he explained. “Once contacted by a potential buyer, the seller will suggest they use the services of a well-known motoring or financial brand to ensure payment. At first glance, the proposed website will look pukka, but of course will be totally spurious; usually hidden away in Eastern Europe. The payment is accepted online and the scam is complete. Only when the buyer turns up at a false address does he discover he’s been conned! Even the RAC has been the target of criminals who have used the RAC’s trusted brand name to set up such a website,” said Dick. Several motoring and financial brands have had their sites copied, so it is vital that buyers maintain vigilance and report anything suspicious to the Police or Trading Standards. Press release at: www.rac.co.uk/press-centre/press-releases/rac-warns-buyers-beware-watch-out-for-used-vehicle

April 2015 ~ ABI Governing Council

At the Association of British Investigators AGM in Cardiff, IPFGB director Dick Smith, was elected to the Governing Council.
He will serve as Membership & Selection Chairman.

 

 

 

 

March 2015 ~ Investigator Licensing ~ England & Wales
With regulation still in the pending tray, questions in the House of Lords evoked a response from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates, Con): “My Lords, the Government remains committed to regulation of private investigators and we have made good progress. However, it is important to ensure that the regulations target those who present the greatest risk to the public. We intend to lay regulations as soon as possible in the next Parliament.”

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