By Tosin Sulaiman
December 12, 2005
JANET WILLIAMS, the head of Special Branch, has risen up police ranks
by outwitting criminals. Now, after losing up to =A35,000 when
fraudsters "skimmed" her credit card, it appears that she has been
outwitted by them.
Ms Williams, the first woman to lead the counter-terrorism unit, had
the money stolen from her card when she used it to pay a restaurant
bill, it emerged yesterday.
She became aware of the crime a few days later when her card was
declined because she was over her credit limit.
A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard confirmed that criminals had made
transactions using Ms Williams's card but declined to go into detail.
"We are not prepared to discuss it because this is a private matter,"
she said. "Ms Williams did identify a fraudulent transaction on her
credit card. She reported the matter and it has now been resolved."
Ms Williams, who is in her forties and joined the Metropolitan Police
in 1982, became head of Special Branch in November 2003, and is in
charge of 560 officers responsible for gathering intelligence on
terrorist suspects and for protecting the Prime Minister.
Credit card fraud is one of the most common crimes in Britain, taking
place once every eight seconds.
It rose by 20 per cent last year and cost British banks =A3505 million,
although according to the Association of Payment Clearing Schemes
(Apacs), skimming, when data from one credit card is copied to
another, is becoming less common.
Sandra Quinn, the communications director at Apacs, said: "This type
of fraud (skimming) is now on the decline because the introduction of
chip and pin has limited the opportunity for people to get hold of
your card. At the beginning of this year this type of card fraud had
come down 29 per cent.
She said that people had been particularly vulnerable to fraud when
using their card in restaurants and other places where the card may be
taken out of sight.
"That happens less with chip and pin because the terminal comes to the
table and you stay in control of your card," she said.
"You are able to watch it the whole time. We estimate that more than
80 per cent of businesses now have chip and pin."
Ms Quinn advised people to ensure that they always knew where their
cards were and to check their bank and credit card statements
"Card fraud is impervious to who the victim is," she said. "For the
fraudsters, there is no personal contact with the victim. That means
we.re all more vulnerable than we are from other types of fraud or
other types of crime."
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