A meeting between three North East business leaders and the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland has successfully highlighted the growing problem of fraud in the business community.
Executives from Active Chartered Financial Planners, a Stockton-based finance specialist, Cyberwhite, a cyber security specialist with offices in Middlesbrough and Sunderland, and Lemon Business Solutions, an outsourcing partner in Stockton, invited Steve Turner to discuss how the police and business communities can work together to tackle the serious problem of increasing levels of financial, data and identity fraud in the region.
Businesses have first-hand knowledge of how increasingly creative scams and fraudulent activities are impacting businesses and individuals, who may be targeted through text messages, emails, phone calls, social media, cyber-attacks or phoney investment offers.
Martin Anderson, chief executive of Lemon Business Solutions, was one of four business leaders to write to Steve Turner, Cleveland’s newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner, bringing the fact that more than £500 million was lost to bank transfer fraud in the UK in 2020, to his attention.
He called on the Police and Crime Commissioner to put tackling fraud at the heart of his agenda, alongside Karl Pemberton, managing director of Active Chartered Financial Planners and Matt Hewison, co-founder and chief operating officer of Cyberwhite.
At a meeting between the business leaders and Mr Turner, scams like the ‘get rich quick’ investments into cryptocurrencies advertised on social media sites, and fraudsters’ increasingly creative techniques to scam people out of money and personal data, were discussed.
As a cyber security expert, Cyberwhite is looking forward to working with Mr. Turner as part of a long-term strategy to reduce the number of scams to which individuals in the North East receive and respond.
Matt Hewison said: “I think if we’re able to work together, we’re much stronger. If we’re able to discuss together the challenges we’re all facing, whether they’re technical, or around our people, or around compliance and processes, I think we’ll be in a much better place.”
Martin Anderson, chief executive officer at Lemon Business Solutions, said: “I hope Steve heard our concerns and he’ll take it away and feed it back to his teams and really consider cybercrime and Tees Valley businesses when he’s putting together his action plan.”
Karl Pemberton, managing director of Active Chartered Financial Planners and chair of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Tees Valley, said: “I hope that Steve will take away how important this is. Ultimately it is a crime and I think it’s quite often low on the agenda because there are more serious crimes out there that I think are reported far more. However, there are lots of victims out there and hopefully we can reduce those numbers within our area.”
Steve Turner, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said: “Talking about cybercrime and the effect it has on individuals and businesses has been brilliant. There’s a lot that’s come out of today and lots we can do working together going forward.
“The next step for me is to look at a business forum to raise awareness of digital and cyber crime amongst businesses, which is something that my office is going to facilitate. I’m also going to look at ways of involving young people, who are the next generation, and we need to make them aware now of the potential issues they will face with cybercrime in the future.”