A new report from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) says fraud has reached epidemic levels in the U.K. and is now a national security concern. It is the crime to which U.K. citizens are most likely to fall victim and is also a serious threat to the private sector and public services. However, the report’s authors warn that the prevailing political narrative fails to convey the full impact of fraud, beyond the perspective of financial losses or the psychological impact on victims. In particular, they say scant attention has been given to the links between fraud and organized crime and terrorism.
In order to inform a new approach to tackling fraud, the report seeks to explore the broader social, economic and criminological impacts of fraud and their particular intersection with the U.K. national security landscape. In doing so, it sets out the case for adopting a fundamentally different pathway for responding to the problem.
RUSI makes the case for a new national security approach to tackling fraud, based on a ‘whole of system’ response, including a greater role for the government intelligence architecture, a better resourced and coordinated policing response and increased coordination with the private sector.
The report considers fraud as a vector of serious and organized crime and is particularly mindful of the threat emanating from overseas. To counter this, the authors recommend more focused intelligence tasking from the National Security Council, a greater emphasis on fraud within the Strategic Policing Requirement and the breaking down of informational silos to make better use of cross-organizational data-matching tools.
The use of fraud as a terrorist financing tool is also explored in the report, which includes examples of the ‘repurposing’ of well-established frauds to fulfil the financing needs of a wide range of terrorist actors. Here, RUSI makes the case for mandatory fraud investigation training for counterterrorism investigators as a key alternative disruption tool. The role of fraud against the public sector is also explored, including benefit, tax credit and student loan fraud, and the key role these variants play in ‘supporting the terrorist rather than the terrorist act’.