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House of Commons Hansard
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05 December 2016
Volume 618
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14. What steps she is taking to protect people from fraud and its effect on families and communities. [907628]

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We have established a joint fraud taskforce, bringing together Government, law enforcement and the financial sector to tackle the crime of fraud. The recent arrest of 14 individuals involved in laundering the proceeds of international cybercrime also demonstrates how a multi-agency approach, including international partners, is crucial in tackling cybercrime and cyber-enabled fraud.

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Fraud, both in person and online, is of great concern to my constituents in South East Cornwall, particularly among the elderly and vulnerable. Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating voluntary organisations such as citizens advice bureau and Victim Support on their work in supporting fraud prevention through education and in supporting victims of crime?

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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out the very important work that many voluntary bodies do in raising awareness. Citizens Advice, Age Concern and Victim Support make sure, including in the lead-up to Christmas, that people are aware of the pitfalls that await them online and of the scandalous fraudsters who pick on some of the most vulnerable people in society.

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I certainly welcome any voluntary work that can be done, but as the level of fraud now stands at £193 billion a year and as local police forces are clearly completely unable to cope, we really need a far more serious strategy from Government to tackle the spectre of online crime. Will the Minister tell us what more can be done to support local police forces and provide some protection for our constituents?

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First, that is why we established the joint fraud taskforce, which includes police and crime commissioners, police forces and victims groups, to make sure that we co-ordinate better our response. It is also why the Government have sponsored and supported the Cyber Aware campaign and Cyber Essentials, to help to make businesses aware of the fraud that awaits them, and banks have sponsored the Take Five campaign. In addition, the national cyber-security strategy sets out a programme in which the Government have invested billions of pounds to make sure that our law enforcement agencies have the capacity to tackle that crime when it is presented to them.

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Police have described so-called binary options betting websites that masquerade as investment vehicles as the biggest scam and fraud being perpetrated in the UK. What do the Government intend doing about them?

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When one of those websites is reported through Action Fraud, our law and order agencies set about trying to make sure we either dismantle it or signpost people away from such areas. In Scotland that is devolved, and it is up to Police Scotland. The broader picture is to make sure that the public and the consumer are aware of what awaits them online, and that they take some very basic steps to protect themselves when they are, for example, Christmas shopping to ensure that fraudsters do not take their money away.