Large value fraud in the UK rocketed in 2005, with a surge in the second half of the year resulting in over £900m of fraud – up nearly three times from the previous year (£329m), and the highest recorded level since 1995, according to KPMG Forensic’s Fraud Barometer.
The research, which for the last sixteen years has considered major fraud cases being heard in the UK (charges of over £100,000 in the Crown Court) saw 222 cases reaching court over the course of 2005, up from 174 cases in 2004.
The past six months have seen an explosion of fraud case prosecutions, many of them high value. Whilst there were 88 cases worth £249m in the first six months of 2005, this shot up to 134 cases worth a colossal £693m in the second half of the year. One case, involving fraudulently acquired loans by metals trading company RBG Resources plc, was worth some £260m alone.
A little under half of fraud was carried out by professional gangs (£420m), but even more was the result of 'insider' fraud by management or company employees (£468m).
Jeremy Outen, partner at KPMG Forensic, says: "Criminal gangs appear to be very active with aggressive stings, while in the private sphere internal frauds to fund excessive lifestyles or to pay off burgeoning debts shows no sign of abating. With both the number and the average value of frauds increasing, companies and individuals need to be more watchful than ever."
Recent cases against financial institutions include instances of an employee feeding information or sending funds to outside accomplices. Two such cases in the last sixth months were between them worth nearly £1m. The issue of employees placed or groomed by criminal gangs is one that has been flagged in recent months by the Financial Services Authority.
Identity fraud continues to be rife, as fraudsters seek ways around the tighter controls introduced by such measures as chip and PIN. Phishing scams on the Internet are a common way of obtaining people’s identities and bank details and continue to proliferate. KPMG recounts one such scam where nearly £200,000 was stolen from 160 people who were fooled by a bogus eBay auction site.