City of London police are deploying officers in India to combat scammers in call centres targeting the UK in a multi-million-pound racket.
The force, which leads the country’s fight against fraud, says it is expanding operations overseas to “take the fight to the enemy”.
City police say 22,000 UK victims lost £21 million last year in “tech support scams”, many of them originating from abroad.
Callers claiming to be technicians from companies such as Microsoft tell potential victims that their computer is infected with a virus. They then demand cash to fix the problem or ask to remotely access the person’s computer, which allows them to hack their emails and bank accounts.
In recent weeks Indian police have raided 26 call centres and arrested more than 50 people.
Microsoft, which has seconded an employee to work with City police, says it receives more than 11,000 calls a month from around the world about fake security warnings. The company’s work with City officers has already led to a number of arrests.
Fraudsters also pose as support staff from Google, Apple and other major tech companies.
City of London police commissioner Ian Dyson said some call centres operate legitimately during the day but then switch to illegal activity at night, making them “criminal enterprises”.
Mr Dyson told the Standard the force had formed a special team to explore “global solutions” to fraud. “A lot of the perpetrators of fraud operate abroad, and that means getting a judicial outcome is challenging in some cases. They are not out of reach, but it makes it harder,” he said.
“There is a serious need to get ‘upstream’ of certain crime types, such as economic crime, and find long-term solutions to tackle them at source, before they spread across the globe.
“This is about preventing people committing fraud in the UK. We are building a capability that means we are taking the fight to the enemy, and I think we can have a significant impact.”