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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 01:02 GMT
Reported fraud 'at 10-year high'
Money and calculator
Financial firms are counting the cost of fraud
Reported fraud in the UK has reached a 10-year high, with cases involving a total of almost 1bn reaching the courts, according to a study.

Accountancy giant KPMG's annual Fraud Barometer said 222 cases involving a total of 942m reached court in 2005, up from 172 cases worth 329m in 2004.

The government was the biggest victim of fraud, but financial firms also lost 10 times more to fraud than in 2004.

KPMG said it reflected more fraud cases and a greater willingness to prosecute.

The two biggest classes of perpetrator were managers and organised crime, which together accounted for almost 90% of the cases.

High-profile attacks

The Fraud Barometer measures cases in the UK courts worth more than 100,000.

KPMG FRAUD BAROMETER, 2005
Total fraud cases: 222
Total value: 942m
Worst hit region: London/South East (674m)
Worst hit sectors: Government (448m), financial sector (360m)
Main perpetrators: Managers (421m), professional criminals (421m)

Much of the rise comes from several high-profile attacks on the government, KPMG found.

Two in particular - involving the repeated use of mobile phones and tobacco to rip off the VAT system in a scam called carousel fraud - were worth almost 100m alone.

But the attack on the financial services sector was particularly stark, KPMG said, with one case topping 250m.

"What we see with our clients is that there is increasing activity targeting the financial sector generally," KPMG Forensic partner Jeremy Outen told the BBC.

"But when you look at the cases underlying the barometer figures, you also see more of an appetite to deal with fraud, particularly employee fraud - partly as a result of the regulator's focus on financial crime."

Perpetrators

One key trend found in the survey is an upsurge in attacks by management.

Fraud professionals have long warned that managers are in the best position to exploit weaknesses in a company's systems to their advantage.

Internal frauds to fund excessive lifestyles or to pay off burgeoning debts show no signs of abating
Jeremy Outen, KPMG Forensic

But equally dramatic has been the rise in cases brought before the courts involving professional criminals.

"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 show no signs of abating," said Jeremy Outen, partner at KPMG Forensic.

Identify fraud also remains a growth area, KPMG believes, with evidence that tighter controls by financial institutions are leading to more innovative attacks.

From phishing e-mails to fake internet registrations, individuals are facing a wide range of methods used to separate them from their money.




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