New CIFAS CEO unveiled as identity theft grows

Simon Dukes will be the man tasked with leading the UK's fraud prevention service CIFAS's fight against fraudulent activity when he assumes the role of group CEO later this year.

Recent research published by CIFAS indicated that overall fraud levels continue to fall year by year, although identity fraud accounted for more than half of all confirmed frauds in the first half of 2013. This was an increase on the second half of 2012, and Dukes will be tasked with overseeing work to combat this crime when he takes the CIFAS hot-seat on 13 September.

Dukes will move to CIFAS from his role as head of cyber at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. He has also held senior roles in government communications and public affairs, and will be taking over as CEO from the long-serving Peter Hurst, who is set to step down after 14 years in the job.

In its Fraudscape Bulletin 2013 publication, released at the start of August, CIFAS said that there were almost 114,000 confirmed frauds in the first half of 2013, with the use of fake identity details, or the impersonation of an innocent victim, accounting for 52% of this activity.

The study also noted that fraudsters are continually changing the products they target, with fraud against plastic card accounts such as store cards increasing during the last 12 months. On the other hand, despite a rise in identity fraud against bank accounts, overall bank account fraud decreased by 11% from the second half of 2012.

CIFAS stated that industry initiatives such as improved security for online transactions and Chip and PIN, which was introduced just over a decade ago, "have doubtlessly prevented much fraud", but the task of driving down fraud levels is an on-going battle.

Maxine Fraser, national operations director for retail intelligence organisation Retailers Against Crime, told Essential Retail that "sharing information is key" to progress in reducing fraud levels, and she spoke of the importance of raising awareness of new crime prevention methods across the retail industry.

"Identity theft and fraud is increasing and retailers need to be made aware of that. We work closely with CIFAS, and the organisation is good at providing the information retailers need," she added.

Commenting on Dukes' appointment, meanwhile, CIFAS chairman Ken Cherrett said that the move should just see an extension of the encouraging work completed under the departing Hurst.

"CIFAS has developed significantly in recent years to meet the evolving needs of organisations in the fight against fraud," he noted.

"Simon possesses a strong mix of industry knowledge, relevant background, plus communications and management skills and we are fortunate to have found an individual of his calibre to carry on the outstanding work and continued innovation achieved under Peter's leadership."

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