'Fortunately, we're more switched-on than that!' - Impresentation fraudsters targeted Beds police, says PCC Kathryn Holloway

PUBLISHED: 17:02 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:04 09 February 2017

Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway. Photo: Andy Watts

Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway. Photo: Andy Watts


Beds police and crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway has told how in her first week in the job, cybercriminals tried to con the force out of money by impersonating her online.

The PCC was speaking at the launch of a Beds police Cyber Threat Awareness event attended by 160 county businesses last Thursday.

The audience was told that UK businesses have lost more than £3.2 million through impersonation fraud, when a supposed chief executive or managing director instructs invoices to paid as a matter of urgency by email – and Mrs Holloway told how the force itself had been targeted.

“Impersonation fraud is a massive issue where finance departments are sent what looks like a genuine email instructing them to pay an invoice immediately from the head of the company,” she said.

“Almost unbelievably, in my first week as PCC, criminals wrote to instruct our chief financial oOfficer to pay just such an invoice, supposedly on my instruction.

“Fortunately, at Bedfordshire Police we are a bit more switched-on than that!”

Cybercrime is the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world and can affect both individuals and businesses.

Beds police last year launched a dedicated Cyber Hub to analyse digital data as part of investigations into cyber bullying, cyber stalking, hacking and online fraud and theft.

Crimes such as child grooming and sex offences also increasingly take place online.

Sean O’Neil, Beds police security advisor, commented: “Cybercrime is a growing issue, and it’s vital that we are able to spend time educating people across the county about it and about how to stay safe online.”

Some two-thirds of UK businesses have been targeted by cybercriminals in the past year, with an estimated 3.6 million cases of cyber fraud and two million computer misuse offences taking place.

To find out more see bedfordshire.police.uk/tackling_crime/cybercrime__online_safety.aspx.

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