2023 Winners’ Summaries

Outstanding Security Manager/Director 
Nick Bell, Detective Superintendent and CEO – National Cyber Resilience Centre

Nick has led teams in a dual role, serving as a senior police officer and CEO of a not-for-profit organisation. Tasked with a business role for the first time, he established and developed a world-first initiative for UK Law Enforcement. Nick successfully led his team to engage multi-nationals, including Microsoft, KPMG, CGI, and NatWest Group to support the sustainability of the UK’s public/private partnership, ‘The Cyber Resilience Centres Network.’ This initiative aims to protect the UK’s SMEs supply chain, third sector, and small businesses from escalating cybercrime. This development is significant for economic crime resilience, particularly for a country currently in economic recovery. Nick stood out to the judges for this award, as they acknowledged the extensive impact he accomplished through his leadership in driving this initiative.

Outstanding Team
Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) – Economic Crime (Operations), HMRC

In the two years leading up to 31st March 2023, this team recovered cash totalling £316m and prevented losses of £209m. They created a dedicated Mental Health/Wellbeing post to provide essential support to team members and rolled out mental health training to 300+ managers across HMRC’s FIS. They also introduced a career path in financial investigation and designed and implemented a new training package for the POCA financial investigators, allowing more flexible, and family-friendly career paths. Working together with banking industry partners has led to the successful introduction of an indemnity process, streamlining operations for banks. Lastly, their efforts in collaboration with various government agencies and international partners has focused on enhancing asset recovery. Judges felt that rigorous training and investment had resulted in impressive recovery and prevention levels through developing professionalism and supporting staff to excel in their roles.

Outstanding Training Initiative
Branch Follow-Off #Banksafe – Met Police, UK Finance and DCPCU

#BANKSAFE is a multifaceted approach to tackle the organised crime trend known as Branch Follow- Off. This involves organised crime groups (OCGs) targeting vulnerable people making cash withdrawals and stealing their cash without their knowledge. This initiative involved close collaboration between the MPS, the DCPCU and local stakeholders across London to identify hotspots for such criminal activity, and then together, to deliver a bespoke tailored training package to branch staff. In six months, training has been delivered to over 250 branch staff, across 45 branches, in seven crime hotspots. One example of this success is Operation Stepron, which was launched in Ilford High Road to disrupt OCG’s and this led to a 75% decrease in offences and five arrests, including an individual wanted for over 20 Bank/Branch Follow-Off offences across London. The success of this training initiative has been replicated across London. Judges felt this was an excellent training initiative, that it was targeted, collaborative and showed real action to protect vulnerable people in a direct and continuing way.

Outstanding New Product, Software or Technology
Vision –  Cifas

Cifas has been at the forefront of innovation in fraud detection and prevention for over three decades. One of its core products is the National Fraud Database (NFD), the largest database of confirmed fraud risk data in the UK. Every day, hundreds of Cifas members from across the sectors search against hundreds of thousands of records to detect and prevent fraud and protect victims of identity theft. Cifas has developed an innovative product – Vision – that is transforming the way that the NFD benefits Cifas members. Vision is a powerful ongoing monitoring product that deploys cutting edge analytics to constantly monitor for changes linked to fraud and financial crime, sending proactive real-time alerts and creating drastic time, resource and budget efficiencies. Cifas has worked closely with its members to research and develop this product, resulting in a solution that is tailored to their unique needs, and delivers transformative benefits. Judges praised the proactive nature of this product which they felt demonstrates good evidence of direct benefit and improvement on existing systems.

Outstanding Investigator
Simon Cordell – City of London Police 

Simon led Operation Vanbrugh, a complex investigation tackling a Ponzi-style fraud from 2014, affecting 300 victims and resulting in £70 million in losses. Despite retiring as a Detective in 2018, he immediately returned as a Police Staff Investigator, resolute in bringing the offenders to justice and providing closure for the victims. Confronted with multifaceted challenges including international inquiries, extradition proceedings, legal intricacies, personnel changes, disclosure issues, and an abuse of process hearing, Simon’s unwavering perseverance prevailed, culminating in a successful trial and a 14-year custodial sentence for the main perpetrator. Acknowledging the collective efforts of the team, the judge specifically commended Simon for his exceptional dedication, unwavering determination, and extensive expertise demonstrated over the prolonged duration of the case. Judges felt there was clear evidence of Simon’s commitment to justice, even post-retirement, making him a deserving recipient of this award.

Outstanding Partnership
Tenet and The University of Birmingham 

Since  2021, Tenet has been a partner of the University of Birmingham’s Law School and Pro Bono Group, delivering education and support to students and post graduates developing their knowledge of how the law operates in the real world. In 2022, guided by solicitors at Tenet, Law School students embarked on StreetLaw, a project that involved creating and delivering interactive legal education to local schools and other community groups to help them understand the law and raise awareness of their legal rights and responsibilities.  The students also offer pro-bono legal advice to individuals, charities and small businesses. Tenet’s aim is to reduce exposure to fraud and financial crime not only for their clients but also for wider society. Being part of the initiative supports this objective and has made a real difference and Tenet hope for a long-term relationship with the potential to replicate each academic year. Judges felt this was an inspiring project and partnership which is delivering benefits on many levels. 

Outstanding Public Sector/Law Enforcement Initiative
Operation Elaborate led by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Led by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the UK executed its largest ever proactive fraud operation, Operation Elaborate, this year. This international operation focused on iSpoof, a website aiding criminals to conceal phone numbers and commit fraud through spoofing. The MPS identified the site’s owner and administrator, facilitating the arrests of over 169 customers globally. A public video discrediting iSpoof’s anonymity and a social media campaign reached 17.3 million individuals. Blockchain analysis complemented traditional evidence gathering methods, revealing customers paying over £3 million in Bitcoin to the site. In May 2023, the owner pleaded guilty, receiving a 13-year custodial sentence. Judges praised the intervention’s complexity, proactive approach, and successful outcome in combating the fraud.

Outstanding Private/ Third Sector Initiative
Hertfordshire Beacon Romance Fraud Peer Support Group (RFPSG) – Catch22

The Hertfordshire Beacon Romance Fraud Peer Support Group (RFPSG) is an initiative which provides a safe space for victims of romance fraud to come together and collectively cope and heal from the profound impact of this crime. The key objectives of this initiative are to provide a space for empathy and understanding, allow for knowledge and advice sharing amongst those with lived experience, and support participants to gradually reintegrate following victimisation. They have received 100% positive feedback from participants. Judges were hugely impressed by the work of the Hertfordshire Beacon RFPSG and felt this was an amazing initiative that provides an outstanding service to victims of romance fraud. 

Outstanding Young Professional
Alexander Hansen, Compliance and Relationship Manager – National Hunter

Since joining National Hunter at the age of 18 years and receiving both internal and external training, Alex has thrown himself into his role and over the past ten years has aided in the prevention of over £60m in fraud. During his time as an investigator, he has successfully managed over 900 investigations so far, with his largest to date preventing £3.9m in fraud, encompassing 15 lenders across the finance sector. Adept at forging alliances, Alex has forged relationships with government agencies, broker networks, banks, building societies and police task forces.  His dedication to preventing financial crime also extends into his free time where he visits schools educating both teachers and students about the dangers and how to avoid becoming a victim of financial crime. To date he has presented to over 8,000 individuals. Judges were particularly impressed by the breadth of work that Alex is involved with and the impact this has had on fraud prevention, both in his National Hunter and external roles. 

Outstanding Female Economic Crime Professional
Dr Elisabeth Carter – Kingston University 

Elisabeth is an influential academic, who has carved out a distinctive role dedicated to tackling economic crime. Skilfully merging forensic linguistics and criminology, she converts her research on criminal communications into impactful anti-fraud strategies and cultural change. Elisabeth is widely known in the field of economic crime for her collaborative spirit, profound expertise, and transformative impact. By reshaping perceptions of fraud as a form of grooming, she has brought unprecedented understanding to the field. Her work spans across various sectors, instigating real change through insightful interventions in public education and organizational anti-fraud strategies. Judges praised her global influence, acknowledging her pivotal role in driving positive change and awareness in the fight against economic crime.

Outstanding Individual Contribution to Tackling Economic Crime
David Gillies – Essex Police 

David works for Essex Police within the Serious Crime Directorate as a Prevent & Protect Fraud Officer. His role is to develop new ways to protect the public from becoming victims of frauds and scams, to support victims of fraud, give them the tools to stop them becoming repeat victims, and to upskill partner agencies and community groups to spot vulnerable members of the community. David has worked tirelessly over the past few years to provide the residents or Essex with the best possible level of service in relation to fraud and this has helped to position Essex Police as one of the leading forces in relation to fraud prevention and protection. Judges felt that David was a standout candidate for tangible front-line results and his dedication to his work and to the public is a shining example to others.

Outstanding Overseas Initiative
Matt Vega, Director of Fraud Strategy – Novo 

Over the past year, Matt led three world-class fraud prevention and economic crime projects for major corporations, spanning business banking, digital collectibles/NFTs, and e-commerce. His innovative strategies prevented $25 million in financial crimes and significantly enhanced customer account security, yielding industry-leading fraud prevention rates. As Bank Novo’s Director of Fraud Prevention Strategy, Matt has revolutionised their fraud approach, shifting from reactive to proactive measures and introducing advanced technologies. He restructured the FinCrime teams, fostering a multi-specialty environment. Introducing the “Tactical Applied-Friction and Risk-Based Technology Tripwires,” Matt pioneered a highly effective prevention technique, now widely adopted by Fortune 500 companies. Judges felt that Matt had implemented outstanding overseas initiatives which had resulted in positive outcomes.

Lifetime Achievement
Rachael Tiffen, Director Public Sector and Learning – Cifas

Passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable, Rachael Tiffen is currently the Director of Public Sector and Learning at Cifas, the UK’s leading organisation in fighting fraud and economic crime. Rachael’s work is characterised by numerous milestone achievements and innovative collaboration with high-profile organisations of great significance, and she has done more than anyone to develop the public sectors understanding of fraud and its aptitude and willingness to tackle it.

Judge’s comment include:

Rachael is a Powerhouse, the kind of leader that doesn’t just inspire change on a  large scale, but gets it done and has an outstanding career in fraud, driving prevention activity across a wide range of organisations and sectors.

Rachael is an extremely well-established figure, who has demonstrated excellence in leadership at the highest of levels, driving forward the national and global fight against economic crime. Her discretionary effort in supporting and providing professional steer to a plethora of economic crime related boards and initiatives, demonstrates the admirable values held by this individual.  

Rachael has consistently showcased a remarkable breadth of accomplishments over the past 24 years. Her unwavering passion and dedication to raising standards and combatting fraud in the public sector are notable. This lifetime achievement award stands testament to Rachael’s determined spirit and commitment to making a genuine difference.

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