London, Oct 27: Criminal gangs have infiltrated about 10 percent of Glasgow's financial call centres, stealing customers' identities and fleecing them of thousands of pounds, police said today.
The gangs either place members in call centres or intimidate employees to provide sensitive customer details.
The information is then used to steal identities and fraudulently set up accounts or transfer money.
Criminals have moved into financial call centres during the past year after recognising how easy it is to operate in such a large industry with a high staff turnover.
Detective Chief Inspector Derek Robertson at Strathclyde Police said: ''We know of individuals who have moved from one area to another area or one bank to another.'' They target large accounts, with sums of money stolen ranging from a few thousand to 100,000 pounds.
More than a dozen people have been arrested by Strathclyde Police in the past year.
Glasgow is home to about 50 financial call centres. Other areas with a high concentration of such centres are the West Midlands, southeast, northwest and Yorkshire.
''I see this as a national issue,'' Robertson added.
''Insider fraud, for example, in the City of London is one of the greatest threats to its integrity.'' Anne Marie Forsyth of the Customer Contact Association, which represents call centres, told the BBC that data theft is a concern.
But she said the industry is working to make sure good standards are in place to make it as difficult as possible for fraudsters to succeed.
Robertson said ''massive strides'' had been made against the gangs, and that the National Fraud Police Forum was working closely with financial institutions in an attempt to stamp out the problem by encouraging better vetting procedures and internal security techniques.