In the last months, two of our prosecutions cases have highlighted how we have tackled the fraudulent behaviour of some licence holders and the challenges we face.
This month, our Director of Partnerships and Interventions, Dave Humphries, discusses our counter fraud initiatives and the steps we took in these cases.
Our blog aims to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion about our work. We look forward to having an on-going discussion with you; please share your comments and opinions.
Most licensing systems are based on a set of standards and for us at the SIA our system is designed to ensure only appropriate people are given the licence to operate. This involves a number of checks to prove identity that people have the relevant qualifications, checks on criminality and verifying that a person has the right to work in the United Kingdom. Most applicants provide the information we need to make a considered decision.
But what happens when someone knows they will not qualify for a licence, but is determined to get one? They may test the robustness of our checks and they may submit false documents to do so. We are constantly alert and we do all we can do to address specific threats.
One particular type of fraud that we face is identity theft. It is not the only category of fraud we have come across, but it was a feature in two recent cases.
These two recent investigations have involved fraudsters stealing the identities of others, but being prosecuted by the SIA for their actions. In both cases, the fraud involved not only an attempt to bypass our online licensing system, but the two individuals also tried to get around the requirement of proving their identity by taking on the full identity of another, to get an SIA licence.
The first fraudster was Moses Oshunkoya who knew the person whose identity he targeted. He used their personal information to the point that he was able to gain a passport under this new identity. Using this false identity Oshunkoya got as far as fraudulently gaining an SIA licence. Nonetheless, our investigation of him resulted in a criminal prosecution.
The second case was Kazeem Oladimeji who was more contrived in his approach. He sought out a former SIA licence holder no longer working within the industry. He adopted that identity by purchasing a fraudulent passport in the victim’s name. He changed the licence holder’s address, enabling Oladimeji to replace an SIA licence. Again, the outcome was a successful criminal prosecution.
Both examples show the real threat posed by identity theft. In both cases, the victims who had their identity stolen contacted us. Once we were aware, we investigated and prosecuted the offenders to ensure their fraudulent activity was brought to an end.
What are we doing to combat such activity?
Thankfully, processing changes in recent years have and will make future cases like this less likely. For example, we introduced personal online accounts which are password protected. This reduces the ability for fraudsters to engage with us without having access to the online accounts.
We have also made improvements to the way we verify documents. We have improved technology to better identify fraudulent identity documents. When we do find instances of fraud, we take robust action with our enforcement partners to ensure such documents are taken out of circulation. Finally, as these two cases highlight, we prosecute the fraudsters.
As the regulator of the private security industry, we play an important role in dealing with identify fraud and together with our partners, we take robust action to tackle such criminality.
Those working in the private security industry can support this by being our eyes and ears and reporting any fraud that they come across. As with other types of criminality within the security industry; if you suspect fraud please report online or contact Crimestoppers. Specific information and how the fraud was identified will enable us to take positive action.