The travel industry has taken steps to stamp out fraud with the official launch of the Prevention of Fraud in Travel group.

More than 150 delegates from travel agencies, airlines and operators attended the official launch of the PROFiT initiative at New Scotland Yard in London on Friday.

Travel Weekly is media partner with the PROFiT group and has run a Fraud Awareness Month to highlight the issue.

Set up by Teletext head of compliance Barry Gooch and ABTA head of finance Mike Monk, the group aims to tackle fraud by encouraging the industry to work together.

Triton chair Steven Freudmann, Sunvil Holidays managing director Noel Josephides, Association of Cruise Experts head of business development Andy Harmer are among those who have backed the initiative.

“Fraud has caused the independent travel agent a lot of significant hardship over the years,” said Freudmann. “This group gives us the opportunity to share information and develop best practice.”

Minister for consumer affairs Gareth Thomas and MP for Ribble Valley Nigel Evans also sent messages of support.

The PROFiT initiative follows on from Operation Sterling, a serious of groups across various industries which was set up by the Metropolitan Police.

Chief superintendent Nigel Mawer devised Operation Sterling in 2004.

“We wanted to look at the problem of fraud and economic crime from a more proactive perspective. The idea was to bring in people who had not engaged with the police before and ask them to share information,” he said.

Fraud is higher than ever on the agenda and the government has invested in establishing a national fraud strategy, said Mawer. Led by the City of London police, a National Fraud Reporting Centre and a Fraud Intelligence Bureau are in development. They will collate reports of fraud and monitor trends. “This could help us save millions in fraud losses,” he added.