Did you see press coverage of the Ericsson bribery and corruption allegations in November 2016? Perhaps you were shocked. Maybe you felt disappointed that another industry icon had failed to live up to its image. I hadn’t really been aware of the allegations previously and I was surprised that Ericsson had screwed up so badly. I was sufficiently curious to research the history of events that led up to the damaging headlines, to see what lessons can be learned. Here is what I found…
For some time I have been highlighting the failure of UK authorities to deal with the proceeds of telecoms crime. TelCos agree that crime would be reduced if payment didn’t reach the fraudsters, but they don’t have a consistent and effective means of stopping those payments. POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) creates powers to seize funds via both civil and criminal courts but UK authorities have failed to make any visible effort to use it.
Here’s a quick recap for new readers. Global telecoms crime is worth USD 38 billion. Money is being laundered and terrorists are being financed. Despite their hard work, the TelCos haven’t been unable to make a significant impact and international frauds continue unchecked. The TelCos agree that crime would be reduced if payment didn’t reach the fraudsters – but, after years of discussion, still can’t agree how to block those payments.
Delegates at the recent 85th Interpol General Assembly in Bali have elected China’s Meng Hongwei as their new President. Mr Meng, who describes himself as a veteran policeman, will take up his duties immediately. He said he stands ready to do everything he can towards the cause of policing in the world. I noticed he mentioned ‘telecoms fraud’ in his address:
“We currently face some of most serious global public security challenges since World War Two. Terrorism is spreading; Cybercrime is arising; telecoms fraud is escalating; all kinds of traditional and non-traditional transnational crimes are rising.”
Over the past few days, you may have seen some interesting news reports describing a shift from the current telecoms models. According to Reuters, Vimpelcom is re-inventing itself and moving away from selling voice calls and data to offer a single, app-based platform where users can communicate for free. Great for consumers but where do you make a profit? And if you’re changing the operating model, what happens to the fraud risk?
International Fraud Awareness Week is promoted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and runs from November 13-19.
One of my contributions is to share this brilliant 90-second video made by the UK Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance Scheme (CIFAS). It was made with real customers in real time and the message is clear – don’t make it easy for fraudsters. Help reduce the risk of Identity Theft by sending this link to everyone who needs to see this message.
How much will you lose in a big telecoms fraud? You may reasonably point out that ‘big’ is relative to the size of the company but for the sake of discussion, let’s say the question relates to the whole industry. So, how big is ‘big’? I’m thinking in round numbers here, but I’d say $1m is big, but not exceptional. $10m is big and $100m is exceptional, almost unique. So do you think you have a billion dollar risk from telecoms fraud?