Daniel Helps, Global Deputy Head of Counter Fraud, British Council
As we emerge from the pandemic we are seeing the threat of fraud and risk to finances move to more of a cyber dependant phase – where actors are relying increasingly on computers and internet connected devices. We are also seeing challenges to how we conduct effective investigations around the world, in person and remotely.
Ten years ago, ‘Cyber Enabled Crime’ was all the rage, this was where a crime was perpetrated using computers but wasn’t depended on one; for example, forging a document could be done using a computer but could also happen with a pen. Nowadays this type of crime is a tiny minority of what we face, and ‘Cyber Dependant Crime’ is the majority, this being where a connected device is required.
There are many types of cyber dependant crimes, far too many to write here, however across the sector we are seeing a significant ‘triple threat’ emerging.
These threats are compounded by difficulties in conducting in-depth detailed investigations by trained investigators. International travel has just started up again, but difficulties still remain – be that long waits to obtain visas, reduced flight schedules, fully booked flights or airport delays. These all result in a reduced ability to jump on a plane and respond immediately to serious allegations.
Investigations can be conducted remotely with great success. However there are times when we need to physically be in a location at short notice. I’m sure we’ve all had that 6pm email where we need to be on a flight the next day … that’s so 2019! With delay comes the inherent risk that evidence and information with be destroyed before it can be secured.
Many businesses – not just in this sector – have experienced a decrease in their headcount. This often results in knowledge of the business and the networks that have been build up globally over many years being lost. If, like me, you have a great network of colleagues who you can use to secure evidence for you in your absence, maybe have a quick check and ask yourself ‘are they still in the organisation’ If not, who can you go to for help … without the risk of them tipping-off a suspect.
This brings me to my final point, as our charities and the sector rebuild, we need to rebuild our networks to fight the challenges ahead, criminals rebuild and change, so should we.