United Kingdom


  • Service: Advisory, Risk Consulting
  • Type: Business and industry issue
  • Date: 16/04/2013

National Fraud Intelligence Bureau: Monthly Threat Update March 2013 

The Monthly Threat Update produced by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) aims to provide a brief assessment of key threats that are currently happening in the UK and highlight any predicted trends likely to occur. The latest update has highlighted a number of developments in several classes of fraud.

Business Process Outsourcing Fraud

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) fraud uses the outsourcing of UK business services and functions to overseas service providers as an opportunity to defraud consumers.


Overseas call centres primarily based in India/South Asia target large numbers of consumers in English speaking markets selling services that are often non-existent or poor quality. Initial contact may be made by a UK based ‘front’ company with subsequent contact from overseas.


Companies use various methods to confirm their legitimacy during interactions with clients including security questions, passwords and ring back services. The total estimated financial loss to UK consumers from BPO fraud in 2012 was £3.7m.

Rare Earth Metals

An emerging threat has been identified whereby fraudsters are promoting investments in Rare Earth Metals. However, the investment potentially is either hugely exaggerated or involves a worthless commodity. Rare earth metals are chemical elements used in the manufacture of products like computers and mobile phones.


According to the FSA, firms promoting investments in rare earth metals are believed to have previously been involved in selling other high risk and unregulated products such as carbon credits, fine wines, land without planning permission and overseas land and crops. Investment scams involving these other products have received adverse attention over recent years, thus it is believed that some offenders are now diversifying into rare earth metals.


Fraudsters are predominantly contacting potential investors by telephone, but some are also using post and email. In some cases the victim receives a certificate of ownership for metal which in reality does not exist.


Victims tend to be elderly, with an average age of 62. Suspects generally use pressurised selling tactics to convince the victims that they are investing in a legitimate company with very attractive returns.

Courier scams to enable card and account hijacking

There have been increased instances of elderly and vulnerable people being targeted by callers claiming to be from their bank. The fraudster informs the victim that their card details have been compromised and that a courier will be calling to collect the card and deliver a new one. The ‘courier’ collects the card and in some cases hand over another card. Card information garnered over the phone is then used to fraudulently abuse the victim’s account.


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James Ridgway 

James Ridgway

KPMG in the UK

+44 (0) 20 7694 5202

Email James 

External Links

For more information on the fight against fraud, please visit the NFIB website.  


Or to report a fraud please visit the Action Fraud website.