Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Head, who leads the economic crime department in the City of London Police
One square mile in the heart of London houses more than 450 international banks and attracts more than 300,000 commuters a day. After terrorist attacks in 1992 and 1993, a so-called “ring of steel” surrounds its perimeter, with only eight vehicle entrances. The license plate of every entering car is automatically checked by closed-circuit cameras. Protecting this center of the financial industry is the City of London Police, formerly founded in 1839 and the smallest of the 43 U.K. police forces. The officers patrolling the square mile are particularly vigilant — hyper-aware that any extremist or terrorist group could attack one of the largest, most densely concentrated financial centers in the world. However, unlike other forces, the City of London Police is responsible for protecting financial institutions from not just terrorist attacks but also economic crime.
The City of London Police has recently joined the ACFE’s Law Enforcement Partnership (LEP). The ACFE began the LEP in 2007 to enhance the anti-fraud experience and expertise of government and law enforcement agencies. The partnership has grown to 31 agencies that represent a broad range of the public sector. Member agencies incur no costs; after they join the partnership and recognize the CFE credential for hiring and promotional purposes, they are entitled to numerous benefits, including but not limited to: discounts on training and certification, complimentary exhibit space at the world’s largest anti-fraud conference and free access to the ACFE Job Board.
“We are proud to be the first U.K. law enforcement body to form a strategic partnership with the ACFE, working together to promote learning that will assist in the prevention, disruption, enforcement and prosecution of fraudulent activities,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Head, who leads the economic crime department in the City of London Police.
In 2007, after the government reviewed anti-fraud efforts in the U.K., it concluded: “A National Lead Force should be established to act as a Centre of Excellence for fraud investigations, including organised training, disseminating best practice, general fraud prevention advice, advising on complex enquiries in other regions and assisting with or even directing the most complex of such investigations.”
The Centre of Excellence, managed by Head, resides within the City of London Police. Head, who has 23 years of experience in law enforcement, is a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy and the International “Leaders in Counter Terrorism” program sponsored by Harvard University and St. Andrew’s University in Scotland.
He heads a staff of 220 detectives, crime analysts and forensic accountants, who are responsible for dealing with serious and complex fraud investigations in the U.K. and globally. The City of London police investigate every conceivable type of economic fraud, Head said.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), run by the city with staff loans from eight other prominent organizations, has proved to be hugely successful, Head said. The staff is analyzing 2.25 million crime-related records [confirmed reports of fraud] within a fast-growing source of reference data. From this information, the NFIB’s “Know Fraud” computer system has, to date, identified about 100,000 criminal networks and pinpointed 858 groups of interest, which link to nearly 23,000 persons of interest and almost 31,000 victims, he said. “With this new technology, the NFIB is able to quickly disseminate criminal intelligence and cases to other forces around the country.”
The force realizes that it can’t solve crimes alone, so it often partners with private and public sectors, Head said. Internationally, the City of London police already has strong working relationships with the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, Immigration Customs Enforcement and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but they continue to forge strong links with other international law enforcement agencies because fraud stretches across the globe, he said.
Becoming a Law Enforcement Partner with the ACFE, Head said, is “a perfect example of where we are going. We pride ourselves on our staff and in having the right person in the right place for the job. The opportunity for our staff to study and become Certified Fraud Examiners will further their reputation as the most highly trained economic crime detectives in the U.K., if not the world.”
One example of the force’s international ties is Operation Archway, which deals with mass-share marketing, more commonly known as boiler-room fraud. The operation’s team members are investigating a suspected £20-million (US$32.8 million), boiler-room fraud operating from Spain, with links across the U.K. and Sweden. While the City of London Police has led the investigation, it has received help from the Northumbria Police, Derbyshire Constabulary, Greater Manchester Police, and Spanish and Swedish authorities.
The Archway team provided identity checks, research and information to officers, which led to arrests and interviews of 14 and the extradition of the main suspect from Sweden. Archway has identified more than 100 victims and recovered £1.5 million (US$2.4 million) of assets. The case is currently winding through the courts, and the team is providing data analysis for the cases.
Archway also is providing intelligence on potential frauds stretching from the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore and the Seychelles, where it is examining, in partnership with local police, accounts that might be the conduit for money laundering, Head said.
“Because the perpetration of fraud is international in scope, the goal of the ACFE Law Enforcement Partnership is to foster symbiotic relationships between the public and private sectors across borders,” said Alani Mundie, CFE, international law enforcement liaison for the ACFE. “Welcoming the City of London Police to this partnership is an exciting step toward meeting this goal and strengthening the global fight against fraud.”
Since the NFIB began, the City of London Police, as lead force, has carried out more than 190 investigations worth more than £2 billion (US$3.2 billion), and it has obtained numerous convictions with long prison terms, confiscation of criminally obtained assets and compensation for victims, Head said.
The City of London Economic Crime Department has achieved the highest detection rate in the U.K. by solving 83 percent of the cases it investigates. “There are a number of challenges ahead, and we continue to improve our capability to fight crime,” said Head. “Having our staff become Certified Fraud Examiners is just one such example of our commitment to be the best.”