Sharing Data to Defeat Fraud

It is clear that Organised Crime Groups share information with other criminals to maximise their opportunities of successfully committing crime. In order to be more successful in defending themselves against fraud attacks the travel industry needs to be more proactive in helping itself, and as this case study identifies there is great value in sharing fraud data within the industry.

The provisions in Part 4 of, and Schedule 7 to, the Data Protection Act relate to several situations in which personal data can be shared and processed so long as the tenets of the Act are adhered to including the following “crime and taxation purposes”:

· the prevention or detection of crime;
· the capture or prosecution of offenders; and
· the assessment or collection of tax or duty.

So long as data sharing agreements and fair processing notices are in place, then travel data relating to crime, or suspected crime, can be pooled, stored, and reviewed in compliance with the Data Protection Act and so there is no valid reason why the travel industry should not share this data amongst itself and the Police.

To share data effectively requires travel companies to share fraud data, an independent centralised depository where the data can be stored securely, analysed, and shared with the Police and finally it needs to be searched on by travel companies taking new bookings to prevent further fraud. In a nutshell this is what the FIN tool* does and it is how the data used for this case study has been analysed.

Any successful prosecution by the Police is based on the gathering of intelligence which is then used as the basis of an investigation relating to an individual or individuals to determine whether they are guilty of a crime. The more travel companies provide data from across the spectrum of the industry the greater the chance that they reduce the risks of fraud attacks against themselves and the other organisations sharing the data. An additional benefit is that more intelligence will be made available to the Police, which will enable a truer picture of the fraudster’s activities to be built up and ultimately lead to more arrests and convictions and fewer successful frauds against the industry.

Counter fraud achievements by the UK insurance industry have been made through the City of London Police`s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) initiative. IFED was launched in January 2012 and is funded by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to the tune of £10 million a year and in conjunction with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) recently celebrated its 1000th arrest.

According to the ABI there are said to be 1000 companies in the UK that are authorised to sell insurance, but ATOL alone have over 2200 licence holders and ABTA state their joint members turnover is over £31 billion.