Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Mick Creedon QPM – Strategic Adviser, Altia-ABM (UK)
Neil Redfern – Founder and Managing Director, Redfern Retail Risk (Australia)
Katy Worobec – Managing Director Economic Crime, UK Finance (UK)
Dr. Peter Schimmel – Senior Fraud Specialist (Netherlands)

Sponsored by Altia-ABM

Key points raised

Peter Schimmel states that we have a ‘perfect storm’. Few are discussing the risks that are being created. There is a lot of Government subsidies about and that will lead to frauds, inevitably. Companies are under enormous pressures, that is a recipe for frauds too; there will be many insolvencies and that too has the ingredients for frauds. Mick Creedon notes that this is a good time for the entrepreneurial criminal. The vulnerabilities are as stark now as ever. The police are not ready for fraudsters, in fact they are working under the constraints of Covid-19 too. You will witness the panel discuss the implications, more bankruptcies and staff insecure about their jobs and when made redundant taking revenge. Mick Creedon notes that fraudsters exploited previous opportunities in different ways (carbon emissions  and 9/11) but there has been little preparation for what is being faced now.

Neil Redfern discusses the impact of fraud on the retail sector in Australia. It is diverse. He notes that retailers are having to adapt to new ways of doing business quickly and with minimum preparation. This is distracting them from focussing on the fraud risks that are being created. In Australia too offenders are adapting. While the police are being proactive, they are being overwhelmed, and yet many retailers are too busy to report offences. He highlights the importance of organisations generally and retailers specifically being proactive and getting into effective ‘operating rhythms’.  Restrictions are easing but those tackling economic crime must not, it is just the start for them

Katy Worobec discusses how Covid-19 is being exploited by fraudsters. Individuals and businesses are being duped. Her team is seeing the same patterns of attacks, not new in terms of types, but offenders have a new lease of life and are playing on people’s fears and uncertainty; you will witness her discussing various scams. Yet she outlines an optimistic side, and an important one at that: agencies are sharing intelligence and working together in a way this has been without precedence. This is facilitating the opportunity for much improved working including consistent messaging. She believes there is a good base for believing this will continue post crisis. Mick Creedon also emphasis the importance of agencies coming together. There are many interesting discussion points: Katy Worobec discusses the way state aid has ben provided so quickly it has undermined fraud prevention; how this recession, as Peter Schimmel notes, will uncover many misdemeanours (e.g. ponzi schemes and the weakness of prior auditors’ reports); and the consequences of poor staffing levels in companies to cope with tackling fraudsters as well as the limits of the police. We need to heed the warnings here, some good practices are emerging but only slowly and there is evidence that offenders are moving much quicker*.

*For a quick summary of scams, see: https://perpetuityresearch.com/3387/identifying-covid-19-frauds-and-scams/