Four call centre staff have been suspended after victims of fraud were allegedly misled into thinking they were dealing with police, and branded ‘morons’ and ‘screwballs’.
A report by the Times alleged that staff at the Action Fraud call centre, which handles reports from victims of fraud across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, were trained to mislead victims into thinking they were speaking to police officers.
Callers were also branded “morons” and “screwballs” and staff were told not to let them know about a scoring system which meant some reports were not classified as crimes, the newspaper alleged.
The report also claimed workers were filmed sleeping on the job, play-fighting and playing on their phones while speaking to callers.
The report comes after a Times reporter applied for and was given a job at the call centre in Scotland, which is run by US firm Concentrix who is contracted by City of London Police, which runs the Action Fraud service.
A spokeswoman for Concentrix said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously and have launched an immediate investigation.
“A small number of isolated incidents have occurred which are not representative of our organisation and our values. The four individuals featured in the investigation have been suspended.”
Commander Karen Baxter, City of London Police’s national lead for economic crime, said all reports made to the call centre are passed to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, rejected suggestions that some are dismissed at call centre stage.
She said the force “does not ask Concentrix call handlers to suggest they are police officers when taking reports from victims” and added: “Any mocking of victims is completely unacceptable.”
Announcing a review into the allegations, she said: “The incidents he (the reporter) describes do not represent the standards of work and ethics we expect from anyone associated with the City of London Police.
“We will be carrying out an immediate examination of standards and requiring our agents to do the same.”