This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Online fraud and spiv businesses

The latest CoPaCC report from Bernard Rix prompted me to dig out a copy of the speech that Yvette Cooper gave to the Labour Party Conference last week. In her speech she said:
And Peter Neyroud, former top Chief Constable has agreed to work with us, consumer watchdog Which? and business to build an organisation to challenge online fraud, modelled on the successful Internet Watch Foundation which is tackling online child abuse worldwide.
Regular readers will remember I blogged about this back in the middle of August. So it is great to see the shadow Home Secretary saying things along similar lines and that my friend Peter Neyroud will be working with the Labour Party on this important policy development.

But I want to make a request: please can this be not only about online fraud...

As I put in my article a few weeks ago, the scale of junk mail, junk phone calls & junk texts is reaching epidemic proportions now, as well. This too needs to be tackled!

I was visiting my Mother in Wales over the weekend. I was down there to help her sort out her paper work which had been building up over the last few years. (I ought to tackle my own now!) In the course of doing this for her, I came across a set of marketing materials that, to the naked eye, were promising her that she had in fact won £100,000 - indeed the cheque was just waiting for her in the office... etc. All she had to claim this money was to send back an order in an envelope and it would be with her and so on and on.. (and on)

This sort of literature is nothing other than a rather seedy underhand scam where the 'real' state of affairs is hidden in the small print. It is what I call a '#spivbusiness. Be in no doubt that my mother is an intelligent woman but she is inclined to take these letters on face value. Why? Because as she reaches her twilight years, one of the things she hopes for most is to leave financial security for her sons and grandchildren. This natural (and probably near universal) desire means that she really wants to believe these letters.

And what makes me so angry is that there are 'businesses' out there prepared to exploit this desire in the most devious ways.

Now I am not sure how you stop these insidious, unethical and harmful scamming and dodgy practices. But I hope that when Peter and Which? sit down to talk, this will be on the table too. 

Perhaps what we simply need is a law against small print? Terms and conditions written in Latin would not be acceptable, so why do we tolerate 1000+ words in 6 point text written in legalese?

Do you have any other ideas?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jon, Sussex Police are working on an approach that is an attempt to identify the victims of the scammers through a range of means, the view is that people who are susceptible to such crime tend to get completely stripped out once they have engaged with the scammers the first time. The risks as you suggest are identical whether this is internet based or letter based or telephone tricksters. Clearly as you write the law may need tightening up in terms of small print but what is vital is that we help people to stop becoming victims, irrespective of the mechanism.