In the lead-up to the Prime Minister’s AI summit, the UK’s Social Market Foundation (SMF) has issued a strong call for a comprehensive approach to combat fraud, emphasizing the critical role artificial intelligence (AI) plays in this battle. The SMF’s briefing highlights the urgency of addressing the rising threat of fraud, which has taken a significant toll on the UK economy, costing more than £12 billion and affecting nine percent of the population in 2021-22.
A holistic approach to counter fraud
The SMF’s proposed agenda centers on a “whole eco-system” approach to counter fraud effectively. This approach encompasses various measures aimed at tackling the multifaceted challenges posed by fraudulent activities. One prominent concern is the potential misuse of AI technology by fraudsters to create “synthetic content,” including deepfakes, for malicious purposes such as spear phishing and social engineering.
The SMF has declared the UK to be in the midst of a “fraud emergency,” reflecting the scale and severity of the problem. Addressing this crisis requires not only a robust response but also an understanding of the role AI plays in facilitating fraudulent activities. The organization highlights that tools like AI are likely to be exploited by criminals, necessitating a comprehensive approach to AI safety, encompassing safeguards against AI-enabled crime.
Given the international dimension of much of the fraud targeting UK citizens and the looming threat of AI turbocharging fraudulent activities, the upcoming AI summit presents a crucial opportunity for the global community to address the AI-fraud challenge proactively. The SMF emphasizes the need for collective efforts to stay ahead of this evolving threat, contrasting it with the slow and inadequate responses witnessed in the current fraud emergency.
A comprehensive review of the UK’s fraud strategy
The SMF, in collaboration with StopScams UK, conducted two roundtable discussions, gathering insights from experts representing various sectors, including finance, telecoms, technology, and consumer and business groups. The consensus among participants was that the UK Government’s current fraud strategy, while a step forward, falls short in effectively combating fraud.
The roundtable discussions yielded several recommendations for the government to consider in its efforts to combat fraud:
Enhanced Cooperation: Most participants stressed the importance of improved cooperation within the fraud chain and between the public and private sectors. This collaboration should be underpinned by effective data sharing mechanisms.
Preventative Measures: Financial institutions should adopt a more proactive approach to preventing fraud. This includes raising awareness about “fraud hygiene” among the general public.
Despite the consensus on the need for these measures, the document highlights several potential obstacles that could hinder the success of the strategy. Issues such as the regulation of data sharing and differing opinions on the priority of the issue pose challenges to the implementation of effective anti-fraud measures.
One core hindrance identified in the document is the perceived lack of leadership in addressing fraud. The new strategy must treat fraud as a top political priority to succeed in combating this pervasive issue effectively.
Ruth Evans, the chair of Stop Scams UK, stressed the urgency of the situation, pointing out that nearly £600 million was stolen by fraudsters from UK consumers in just the first six months of the year. She emphasized the need for a holistic approach, involving strong government leadership and better coordination among industries, all underpinned by seamless data sharing.