Cybercrime 'grave threat' to economy and law enforcers need to consider response - City of London

Research produced for the City of London Corporation and supported by the City of London Police has shed light on the severity of economic cybercrime, with the data illustrating the scale of the issue affecting businesses and individuals.

The report, entitled The Implications of Economic Cybercrime for Policing,’ and authored by Cardiff University, aims to raise awareness of the issues that law enforcers face, illustrate their complexity and scale, while helping inform the development of solutions.

In the latest data from the City of London Police’s Action Fraud reporting tool, the figures showed that there were almost 107,000 reported incidents of economic crime (businesses and individuals) in the last quarter of 2014. Reported banking and credit industry fraud accounted for the largest portion at 33 per cent. Other research has shown that losses from online banking fraud rose in 2009 at £59.7 million and peaked to a new high in 2013/14, at £60.4 million.

The report also evaluates the ‘Four Ps’ Government strategy of policing economic cybercrime:

  • Protect – the primary prevention for business and public against crime
  • Pursue - following up cases with prosecution and disruption
  • Prevent - stopping people becoming criminals
  • Prepare - reducing the impact if a crime occurs

The report highlights the key challenges facing law enforcers and the Four Ps strategy, which includes: the complexity of cases; a cross territorial scale; rapidly changing tactics of offenders; the volume of incidents; victims being often unaware of the impact; a reluctance to report the crimes; and a lack of information about organised crime groups and activity.

The report highlights a number of potential policing responses, including suggestions that:

  • There should be a greater focus on the ‘Prevent’ strategy rather than ‘Pursue.’ This includes better educating citizens, especially vulnerable people, of the risks of cybercrime.
  • There should be an emphasis on partnership working and greater coordination across police forces and other key bodies, nationally and internationally – including the National Crime Agency, Intellectual Property Office and Trading Standards as part of the wider policing family, as well as international partners.
  • Law enforcers should place a greater focus on disruption tactics – such as identifying and shutting down fraudulent websites – over enforcement investigating.
  • Building on existing efforts of a joined-up approach to policing economic cybercrime, addressing those crimes that by volume, value, harm and/or severity of threat, and identification of the organisation and location of perpetrators, appear to pose the biggest risk.

Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation, said:

“This report shows that economic cybercrime continues to pose a grave threat to our economic stability and its impact is felt across society, impacting on businesses and individuals alike. Because everything to do with cybercrime is evolving – the speed at which it grows, its global reach and the volume at which it is constantly increasing – we need to see continued collaboration between Government, law enforcers and industry to tackle the issue.”

Adrian Leppard, QPM, Commissioner of the City of London Police, said:

“We should expect all police forces to be putting cybercrime as a priority and exploring ways in which they can use their existing resource, coupled with volunteers and local businesses to help in the mission to protect. Cybercrime should not be a priority for police, merely because adequate resources aren’t available.“There needs to be a renewed approach to the care and education of victims of cybercrime, to prevent further victimisation. We need to reach those at risk, particularly with the SME community and those individuals relatively new to the internet.”

Dr Mike Levi, Professor of Criminology at Cardiff University and lead author of the report, said:

“The risks of being defrauded by criminals using the internet have increased and will continue to do so, unless we all do something more to protect ourselves and others. The police can identify and focus on helping repeat victims and engage with others on targeting the most serious offenders and their enabling networks.”

A report published earlier this year by the accountancy firm PWC, they found that 90 per cent of large organisations had suffered a security breach, up from 81 per cent in 2014. For smaller organisations this showed figures of 74 per cent and 60 per cent respectively. For these larger companies of over 500 staff, a breach costs commence at almost £1.5 million and for smaller businesses around £75,000.

In a YouGov poll of 2013, 500,000 people had been victims of dating scams, 900,000 conned by boiler room scams, 700,00 by charity scams, 900,00 by emergency funds scams and 800,000 fooled with fake lottery winnings.

Notes to Editors

  1. The City of London’s report, ‘The implications of economic cybercrime for policing’ can be found here.
  2. About the City of London Corporation: The City of London Corporation provides local government and policing services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the 'Square Mile'. In addition, the City Corporation has three roles: 
  • We support London’s communities by working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on economic regeneration, education and skills projects. In addition, the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust makes grants of more than £15 million annually to charitable projects across London and we also support education with three independent schools, three City Academies, a primary school and the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
  • We also help look after key London’s heritage and green spaces including Tower Bridge, Museum of London, Barbican Arts Centre, City gardens, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches, and important ‘commons’ in south London.
  • We also support and promote the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events, research-driven policies all reflecting a long-term approach. See for more details.


  1. The City of London Police is responsible for policing the City’s business district, the ‘Square Mile’ in the historical centre of London. In addition, it holds national responsibility for Economic Crime and under this remit is host to Action Fraud (the national fraud reporting service), the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department and the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit.