Action Fraud – Useful or Useless?

Action Fraud is a new national reporting centre which you can use when you’ve been scammed or defrauded in the UK, but I wondered just how useful this service is having been set up after being made a victim myself, so I thought I would discuss what happened to see what advice they could give.

The waiting time was only 8 seconds, which was great , here is the conversation:

Michelle: Hello Thomas Tailford, you are chatting with Michelle, thanks for contacting us, how can I assist you? (Please do not reveal personal data during this web chat)

Thomas Tailford: Hi Michelle, basically I wondered if Action Fraud could help me, but not sure if the Police would be better to speak to? I loaned some camera equipment to someone who turned out to be a known fraudster and he didn’t give it back

Michelle: Have you lost all contact with them?

Thomas Tailford: Well I have their address, but the Police said it was a civil matter, despite this chap having appeared in county court twice for similar fraud offences with over £30,000 worth of fraud being committed

Michelle: So when you ask for it back does he refuse? if so this is fraud and we can report it

Thomas Tailford: He hasn’t refused to give it back, I’ve met him in person once, he said he didn’t have it, then we were meant to meet again, but he said he couldn’t meet. Then he said he would post it, but sent it to Newcastle (nowhere near me!), and Royal Mail have confirmed that the item has been collected by the sender.

Thomas Tailford: Can I ask, what would Action Fraud be able to do that the Police wouldn’t be able to do in this situation?

Michelle: If you have given him the equipment as a loan and then he has stolen them that this is a dispute between the two of you, he has stolen from you this is something that the police would report not Action Fraud.

Thomas Tailford: So this isn’t classed as a scam of some kind? Or Fraud? I’m confused, the police advised that this is a civil matter and therefore they wouldn’t be able to deal with it. Are you guys not able to deal with it either?

Michelle: No we report fraud, he has stolen from you. I would advise you to go to the police if they have decided that it is a civil matter then you may need legal advice.

After providing them with more details about my experience with Norman Fowler, including a link to a Newspaper article about him, the ActionFraud team repeated that this wouldn’t be something that they would deal with and it should in fact be dealt with by the Police who should deal with my problem.


From ActionFraud’s perspective, this was a theft, which I agree with, but it was obtained using a scam technique. I clearly explained that the Police didn’t see this as criminal and despite this fact, I was told they couldn’t help.

Therefore, as “the UK’s national reporting centre where you should report fraud if you have been scammed or defrauded” (taken from their about us page) I feel that they were not much use in reporting what had happened to me.