Centre for Counter Fraud Studies

Research case studies

Since the formation of the Centre in 2009 it has been associated with over a quarter of a million of pounds of research income. Projects have been for both public, private and voluntary sector clients. Some of the projects are listed below with their main findings, publications and impact.

Data Release: Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security

The Centre for Counter Fraud Studies is supporting an EPSRC project (FEC funding: 360k) titled: 'Data Release: Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security' (EP/N027825/1) (2016-2020). Dr. Victoria Wang (PI), Professor Mark Button (CoI), and Dr. David Sherperd (Senior Research Fellow). 

Project abstract: 

We understand that there is a clear argument for releasing public data so that commercial companies can create added value by developing apps that can harness the data or utilise the data in existing apps. But there can also be unintended consequences. Therefore, we must strike a correct balance that ensures data releases are safe, secure and do not break privacy and trust, but also provide enough data to produce economic benefits. Organisations that collect and host personal data must be confident about security and privacy. We aim to provide organisations with a holistic approach to safeguard their data release.

This project is joint with another EPSRC project (FEC funding: £1.24M) on Data Release - Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security (EP/N028139/1) (2016-2020) at Swansea University. We are working with computer scientists to integrate formal modelling, data mining, visual analytics and information security management to solve the complex problem of predicting the impact of releasing data sets. 

Victims of Fraud

In 2009 the National Fraud Authority (NFA)/Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)/Office of Fair Trading (OFT) funded the Centre to research victims of fraud. This research highlighted the devastating impact fraud has on victims, the lack of support they receive and the difficulties of securing help. The research resulted in three reports and a subsequent vox populi.

The research had a significant impact on policy development by government bodies in relation to the services and structures created to support fraud victims. Dr Bernard Herdan (Chief Executive of NFA) and Mike Bowron (Commissioner of City of London Police) wrote in the foreword to the research:

“It represents an important step forward in filling in the gap in our knowledge about the victims of fraud and provides a bed-rock for ensuring that victims remain at the centre of our plans to combat the effects of fraud.”

During the research the NFA created a victims stakeholder group which covered the main statutory, voluntary and private bodies with an interest in fraud victims. Recommendations from the reports were taken away by these group members to influence their policies for dealing with fraud victims. The lack of support for SMEs identified by the research led the NFA to decide to offer greater services to these victims of fraud. Indeed as the NFA’s list of achievements noted in 2010 in relation to this research:

“These findings led the NFA to create an action plan for radically improving support to individuals and small and medium-sized business (SME) victims of fraud. The research has also influenced the support offered to victims by other bodies such as Victim Support, OFT and the Serious Fraud Office.”

The most significant impact was the need for a single point of contact for victims and this helped to cement government thinking towards the creation of Action Fraud, which has been created to provide this function. Action Fraud is a central point of contact for the reporting of fraud and provision of advice and support for victims. The then Chief Executive of Victim Support, Gillian Guy, offered this conclusion on the research:

“The NFA’s research will help everyone better understand how victims are affected, which is key for developing more effective support services.”

This research has also led to academic publications.

Organisational Fraud Measurement and Resilience

Corporate victims of fraud have also been neglected by researchers and policy-makers. One significant issue is gauging the extent of victimisation within an organisation. The CCFS has been at the forefront of conducting research on fraud measurement. Working in partnership with the business advisory practices MacIntyre Hudson,  PKF (BDO). The research has highlighted the significant costs of fraud to organisations in different sectors.

The work on fraud measurement has been used to produce a guide on Measuring Fraud for the EU/China project. The expertise was further recognised with a research contract with the Department for International Development to examine the challenges in using fraud loss measurement approaches in overseas aid.

These projects have also resulted in academic publications.

Ensuring organisations minimise the risk of further victimisation has been another important stream in this area of research. Mark Button and Graham Brooks have also worked with MacIntyre Hudson and now PKF (BDO) on research projects related to the resilience of organisations to fraud (2010 onwards). Using key industry benchmarks on counter fraud strategy a survey was developed and distributed to the key sectors of the UK economy. The results of this were published in a series of reports covering the UK and specific sectors. Some examples are listed below (the full list can be found in publications).

It has resulted in further research and the development of an online tool in partnership with the National Fraud Authority  and Insurance Fraud Investigators Group which enables organisations to assess their counter fraud strategy: https://www.pkfapps.co.uk/fraud/