Glasgow BBQ: an island unto itself

October 27th, 2006

One in 10 of Glasgow’s call centres has been infiltrated by criminal gangs, police believe.

The scam works by planting staff inside offices or by forcing current employees to provide sensitive customer details.

The information is then used to steal identities and fraudulently set up accounts or transfer money.

The Customer Contact Association played down the extent of the problem but admitted it was a concern to those in the industry.

Det Ch Insp Derek Robertson of Strathclyde Police told the BBC’s Newsnight Scotland programme that there were a large number of call centres in the Glasgow area.

Recruit volunteers

“We have 300-plus, and we know that number is growing,” he said.

“I would say approximately 10% have been infiltrated in the past and we are working very hard to reduce that number.”

Detectives believe that criminal crews are sent out to recruit volunteers to work in the centres.

Once they agree, they are asked to supply financial information in return for a fee.

Another tactic is to identify pubs where call centre workers visit and intimidate the employees to pass on the details.

Det Ch Insp Robertson said: “There are a number of different ways to do it.

“We know of organised crime groups who are placing people within the call centres so that they can steal customers’ data and carry out fraud and money laundering.

“We also know of employees leaving the call centres and being approached and coerced, whether physically, violently or by being encouraged to make some extra money.

“And of course you have the disgruntled employee who may turn their hand to fraud just to benefit themselves.”

However, Anne Marie Forsyth of the Customer Contact Association played down the extent to which criminal gangs had managed to manipulate the industry.

She told the programme: “I think what Derek is talking about is the financial services sector, but the contact centre sector is far wider with travel, health, insurance and lots of others.

“Nevertheless it is obviously a concern and it’s a concern for all businesses.

“CCA membership has been very active over the last couple of years over sharing and exchanging data in this area. There is lots and lots to learn because business has got to be one step ahead as fraud increases.”

Call centres have become an increasingly important source of jobs.

Scottish Enterprise estimates that the industry employs about 18,000 people in Glasgow alone.

Across the UK the number is closer to 800,000. Median wages for those answering the phones are about 14,000.

The union, Unison, said that most call handlers working for established companies would be well trained and well monitored.

Dave Watson, their senior regional officer for Scotland, said that the biggest concern over security centred on out-sourcing companies which had high staff turnovers.

Mr Watson told Newsnight Scotland: “I think the real issue here is there are opportunities for criminal gangs to infiltrate staff where you’ve got high turnover and employers are desperate to recruit anyone to fulfil a particular contract.

“So what companies need to do is maximise their in-house operations and where they are using out-sourced providers they do that with the same standards that they require with their in-house operations.”

Det Ch Insp Robertson said call centre fraud was now a top priority.

His officers regularly monitor local jobs pages and contact new call centres.

He said: “That’s the only way to get ahead of the criminal – by pro-actively targeting the organisation before they recruit their member of staff. We are actively working on that.” […]

And surprise surprise, no mention of the NIR, the previous scandal of Identities for sale from inside Whitehall, and we have been here before.

The habitual and deliberate failing to connect the dots practiced by BBQ imbeciles, in this case, one ‘Raymond Buchanan’ is simply appalling.

It doesn’t take a genius to extrapolate from this and previous examples to see that if the NIR is rolled out as planned, it will be a piece of cake for anyone to get into the most intimate details of a a British citizen. It will be even easier than is the case in this ‘article’, because NIR access will be widespread, with terminals everywhere, plastered with Post-It® notes sporting privileged user passwords….

You get the picture.

For you people that DONT get it (BBQ dunderheads who lurk on BLOGDIAL) this is just the tip of the iceberg. If the NIR is rolled out, people will be able to investigate you without having to commit any sort of crime or deception. The NIR will provide a ‘service’ where you, the man in the street, can check if someone has a criminal record or not. If you think that it is outrageous that ‘criminals’ are getting into call centres, imagine the scenario (you do have SOME imagination dont you?) where all you have to do is pay to get access to anyone’s details, and its all perfectly legal. The logical conclusion will be that if you are allowed to access this part of a person’s life (criminal record), why not let people access everything else? This WILL happen if the NIR is put in place, and people stupidly enroll in it.

By not connecting the dots, by brainlessly boosting the idea of biometrics, by letting it slip again and again, deliberately, and with malice of forethought, you, you ignorant BASTARD are a part of the PROBLEM.

Or maybe I have it all wrong.

Maybe BBQ Glasgow exists in a parallel universe, where there is no Whitehall, no Bliar, no NIR, nowhere else that HMG IT has been corrupted from the inside, no broken DVLA, where Google is actually ‘Google Glasgow’ where you can only search inside that universe, where the police have never sold surveillance to criminals. You get my point, and there are many more that I could have sourced and quoted. If I felt like it, I could even extrapolate this story to the call centres in other countries, that have the billing records of millions of Britons on tap.

But why go there?

This is irresponsible journalism…or it would be if what BBQ did really was journalism, and not wildly biased propaganda on behalf of every punter with a fist full of fifties.

This story was brought to you by an very vigilant virologist, its veracity verified and its verse vectored to me for vilification.

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