Fraud, Pandemics and Policing Responses
The article identifies some novel crime types and methodologies arising during the current pandemic that were not seen in previous pandemics. These changes may result from public health measures taken in response to COVID-19, the current state of technologies and the activities of law enforcement and regulators. It shows that most frauds that we know about might have occurred anyway, but some specific – mainly online - frauds occur during pandemics, and because of large scale government assistance programmes to businesses and individuals, many more opportunities were created from Covid-19. In the UK and Australia (less clearly elsewhere), public-private partnerships between police and banks led to joint activities in the attempted prevention of public-facing frauds (though the success measures are unclear), and arrests of suspects were sometimes easier because they were at home more! However, responses to fraud against government loans and grants were weaker and it is likely that many of them will be unprosecuted. More frauds will come to light later. More rapid prevention is the key to reducing the impact of economic crimes, but we need better focused research on how to get people not to fall for scams, better technologies to make frauds harder, and better processes and political will to stop procurement frauds.
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