Detective Supritendent Charlie McMurdie, the head of the Metropolitan Police’s e-crime unit, said that cyber crimes cost the UK economy an estimated £27 billion a year and was not ‘victimless’. She pointed out that fraudsters and robbers get longer sentences than cyber criminals.
According to BDO’s Fraudtrack report The threshold for reported cyber crime is around £50k, and therefore a number of crimes do not form part of this statistic. Businesses are still reluctant to report cyber crime for fears of ‘bad press’ and poor customer relations.
“Sentencing is still an issue. Some of these people have made millions and if it was fraud or robbery they would get eight or 10 years but they get less because it’s cyber crime,” the BBC quoted McMurdie, as saying.
Her comments come after the FBI busted an Estonian gang who infected four million computers in 100 countries with code redirecting users to online ads, allegedly making them $14 million.
She pointed to a number of successes in recent years, including Operation Lath and Operation Pagode, which had resulted in several people being convicted in British courts.
McMurdie said Operation Pagode centred around a criminal ‘cyber supermarket’ website where up to 8,000 people exchanged information about stolen credit cards, and bomb-making and drug-making kits.
But she pointed out that the culprits’ sentences of four years and eight months did not reflect the severity of the crime.
“Sentencing powers are sufficient but it’s the appreciation of the harm these individuals are causing that is lacking,” McMurdie said.
“In total some of these cases involve £5 or £6 million. People think there are no victims, no-one loses out because individuals get their money back from the banks. But it’s a loss to the UK economy and a gain for that criminal organization,” she added.