A specialist fraud unit set up to help victims in Hertfordshire has been praised by the Victims Commissioner.
Dame Vera Baird complimented the Beacon Fraud Hub, created by the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, for recovering millions on pounds for victims.
She was giving evidence to the House of Lords Digital Fraud Committee alongside Neil Postins, Service Delivery Manager, National Economic Crime Victim Care Unit and Pauline Smith, Director, Action Fraud
They discussed the underreporting of fraud, the failure of the police to prioritise fraud, the impact on individuals and the visibility and awareness of Action fraud
Speaking about support for victims Dame Vera said: “My understanding of the difference is, in a way, that the private sector support is likely to be about reimbursements or not. Public sector support is likely to be of the kind that I have set out: going to Action Fraud, coming back to the police and the police taking what action the two percent of their resource permits, but they should certainly be sending you to a victims hub.
“A link may be that where you have professional fraud advocates in the victim’s hub they can often argue for reimbursement with the private sector.
“There is an excellent organisation called Catch22, which runs the PCC's victim’s fraud services in Hertfordshire and spends a great deal of time not only looking after the victims' needs but trying to get the money back for them.
“That remains a huge problem and there is a pretty inconsistent approach. There is something called the Contingent Reimbursement Model Code, where victims of authorised push payment scams, the fastest growing kind of fraud, can get their money back, but actually do in only about 40 per cent of cases. As with many victims in many kinds of crime, if you have an advocate acting for you who has done this before, you are far more likely to be successful in getting it back.”
The award-winning Beacon Fraud Hub, based at Welwyn Garden City Police HQ, offers support to every fraud victim in Hertfordshire.
It was created and funded by the Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire in 2019, and employs four specialists to tackle one of the highest crime types in the county.
Kevin McGetrick, Head of Victim Services and Commissioning at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: ““The number of organisations to contact can be bewildering and that is where our case managers, as advocates, have been so successful in helping victims navigate through a complex reporting landscape”
Since it was set up in April 2019 the unit has contacted thousands of fraud victims, and in the process have helped them recover £2m. The funds have been secured by the explaining to victims how, in some cases, defrauded money can be claimed back from banks and financial institutions.