UK banks pledge £3m to card crime unit

UK banks pledge £3m to card crime unit

The UK's Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) has secured £3m from the country's banking industry for the continued funding of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU), following a two-year pilot that resulted in estimated fraud savings of £65 million from stolen cards and personal details.

In its first two years, the DCPCU was jointly funded by the banking industry and the Home Office. Since its inception in April 2002 the unit has secured 52 convictions and recovery of over 36,000 stolen payments cards and cardholder data.

The DCPCU was set up to target organised gangs - which Apacs says are responsible for most of the UK's card fraud losses amounting to a total of £402m in 2003. The unit has particularly focused on the scams carried out by counterfeiting gangs that run sophisticated factory-style operations.

Apacs says the DCPCU's work has also helped combat other criminal activity such as the trade in drugs, illegal immigrants and counterfeit goods, which are often funded by card fraud profits.

The unit comprises officers seconded from the City of London and Metropolitan Police forces, supplemented by banking intelligence and administrative support supplied by the banking industry.

Commenting on the funding, Detective Chief Inspector Tony Thomas, from the City of London Police, who heads up the unit, says: "This gratifying news is well-deserved considering the enormous successes of the past two years. Already we are building on that success; as almost every week since the end of the pilot we have had a number of successful raids and arrests."

The new £3m funding from the UK's banking industry reflects bank's real concerns about the growing levels of ATM card fraud. Recently online bank First Direct wrote to customers advising them to limit their use of cash machines to just once a week and to withdraw enough money to last.

Furthermore, Barclays has just written customers stating that it will be cutting daily withdrawal limits from ATMs to £300 in an attempt to protect the bank from rising fraud losses.

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