More than 1,600 social media accounts linked to scam activity were taken down last year following the work of a specialist fraud squad funded by the banking and finance industry.
The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) has been working with social media platforms to identify accounts which feature posts relating to payment crime.
Just under 500 of the accounts which were removed were used to recruit young people as “money mules” – when someone allows their bank account to be used by criminals to launder the proceeds of fraud.
More than 400 of the accounts removed were so-called “brokers”, who advertise goods and services at reduced prices that have been bought using stolen card details.
Nearly 250 of the accounts were involved in the trading of stolen card details online. The remainder were involved in frauds such as “flipping”, where criminals persuade victims to invest money in exchange for big returns that never materialise.
The DCPCU is made up of officers from City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police Service as well as banking industry fraud investigators and support staff from trade association UK Finance.
In total, the specialist police unit prevented £31.2 million of fraud and disrupted 23 organised criminal groups in 2019.
Overall, 75 fraudsters were convicted last year following investigations by the DCPCU, with a total of 100 years in prison handed out to defendants in fraud cases investigated by the unit.
It seized £1.65 million of assets from criminal gangs – more than double the amount confiscated in the same period in 2018.
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Criminals are increasingly abusing social media platforms and mobile phone networks to perpetrate fraud, and so it is encouraging that the DCPCU has been strengthening its partnerships with firms in these industries.”