Fraud During a Pandemic: Identifying and Appraising New Challenges for the Criminal Justice Response in England and Wales

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Law


The global Covid-19 pandemic has presented new opportunities for those looking to commit fraud, capitalising on new vulnerabilities (of systems, organisations, and members of the population), propelled by sophisticated cyber-enabled schemes. There has been an increase in fraud during the pandemic, as well as an increase in its complexity, which places it front-forward as a criminal law issue which requires advanced analysis. For example, on 7 May 2020, Action Fraud reported that a total of £2,996,252 has been lost by 1467 victims of coronavirus-related scams. 6069 reports of coronavirus-related phishing e-mails were received. Penalising fraud, especially against vulnerable members of the population such as older persons, has been held to be an 'immediate' charging priority for the Crown Prosecution Service. A number of public bodies--the National Crime Agency, the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), the Cabinet Office--have current interests in fraud research during the time of Covid-19.

This research project has two aims. First, it will map the landscape of how fraudulent conduct is changing during the pandemic. This will be achieved in collaboration with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and a series of roundtable discussions with fraud policy-makers and practitioners. Secondly, by critically appraising semi-structured interviews with leading fraud practitioners, it will provide a normative framework for how emerging dishonest conduct ought to be charged and prosecuted at this time.

The project will lead to two major academic articles on fraud during a pandemic (a theory piece and a governance piece), and a policy paper on fraud governance.


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