Last week’s Newsnight put the issue of card fraud in the construction industry under the spotlight.
As an ex-police superintendent who now heads up the CITB’s fraud investigation team, I watched the piece with interest.
Interest, but not surprise.
Because all of the internet testing centres their journalists identified were known to us. And all were being investigated and had been suspended prior to the show being aired.
The issue of card fraud is not a new one.
I was appointed by the CITB, which administers card schemes on behalf of CSCS, in 2012 to help tackle the problem. Construction News has been reporting on card fraud for years.
Work to be done
When I arrived at the training body, it was quickly clear to me that some of the policies around card testing could be tightened up.
“These fraudsters threaten the good work we are all trying to do”
I introduced a policy of ensuring photos on cards had to be taken at the time of testing, thereby stopping testing by proxy, which was not uncommon at that time.
But of course, stamping out one type of fraud does not stop the determined fraudster. They come up with different ways of cheating the system.
We have therefore seen the rise of officials at testing centres supplying answers – as seen on Newsnight.
Working alongside the police, immigration and other law enforcement agencies, we have gathered intelligence on fraudsters so that we can close down testing centres acting illegally. In addition, we can help link this fraud with other criminal activity.
Over the past year we have ramped up our investigations. I was pleased when we doubled our investment in countering fraud; this has enabled me to close down five testing centres, with a further eight under investigation.
We have also put together a three-point plan to help fight fraud:
- Bringing forward a comprehensive review of all testing centres.
- Putting a hold on any new testing centres opening until that review is completed.
- Accelerating the installation of CCTV in all testing centres.
The CITB is taking this positive action and I believe this will help turn the tide against the fraudsters.
That said, while I am positive about the steps we are taking and how seriously the CITB and its partners take this issue, the problem of card fraud is not going to go away quickly.
We must remain vigilant. That is why I am calling on the industry join us in the fight against card fraud. Where you see anything suspicious, report it.
The card schemes are so important in maintaining safety and standards in the construction sector, and we have made great strides in this area in recent years.
These fraudsters threaten the good work we are all trying to do.
I know these people are a very small minority. So let us, the majority, work together to stamp out card fraud and make our industry as safe and qualified as possible.
Email email@example.com if you suspect card fraud. Together we can stamp this problem out.
Ian Sidney is a fraud investigator at the CITB