The National Crime Agency (NCA) has launched a new initiative, bringing law enforcement and government together with the private sector to tackle criminals seeking to exploit the COVID-19 crisis for financial gain.
The new ‘OTELLO COVID-19 Fusion Cell’, led by the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) and co-sponsored by the private sector, brings together experts from across sectors – including the financial sector, insurance companies, trade bodies, law enforcement and the wider public sector.
The Cell aims to rapidly share information on changes to the economic crime threat related to COVID-19 and to proactively target, prevent and disrupt criminal activity, protecting businesses and the public.
There is concern that criminals are using the pandemic as a hook to harm vulnerable people for financial gain or to continue illicit activity. Whilst the overall level of fraud being reported has not significantly increased, there has been a noticeable shift towards scams directly linking to Coronavirus.
More people working from home and an increase in online activity has left both businesses and people vulnerable to scams. Lockdown has also changed the way people conduct their lives and business, with an increase in mobile banking, e-payments and cash stockpiling.
The Fusion Cell will work in partnership with industry to identify new trends and threats and decide on the most appropriate way to tackle it, building on the expertise of both the public and private sectors.
The Cell produces a weekly public/private threat dashboard, to inform areas for proactive tactical development and disruptive action.
Insight from developing the Fusion Cell has the potential to inform a longer term ambition to develop the capability to spot and stop economic crime before it happens, with real-time insight and disruptive activity through public-private data sharing
If you have any experiences with phishing scams do let me know, by email.