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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 01:07 GMT 02:07 UK
UK 'hit by soaring fraud levels'
Gloved hand reaching into safe
The government has been one of the biggest victims of fraud
Reported fraud in the UK surged in the first six months of the year, passing levels seen for the whole of most recent years, a study has found.

Major fraud cases involving 653m came to court in 2006, up from 250m at the same time in 2005 and 392m for all of 2004, KPMG's Fraud Barometer found.

So-called "supercases", involving hundreds of millions of pounds, made up a significant part of the increase.

Elsewhere, crooked staff, ID fraudsters and gambling addicts drove the rise.

According to the accounting giant's report, a total of 123 fraud cases came to court during the first six months of the year, significantly higher than the 88 recorded for the first half of 2005.

Management fraud

Insider fraud continued to lead the pack with managers named as the biggest perpetrators - making up almost half, or 310m-worth, of the cases taken to court.

Unfortunately, fraud seems to be reaching new heights right now
Jeremy Outen, KPMG

Fraud carried out by professional gangs declined somewhat from previous months, accounting for 123m, or less than a quarter of prosecutions.

KPMG's Fraud Barometer measures the number of reported and prosecuted cases of fraud worth more than 100,000.

Among the biggest value "supercases" were the 200m collapse of Imperial Consolidated and a 100m case involving allegations that companies had tried to defraud the NHS in a drug price-fixing scam.

'New heights'

"Unfortunately, fraud seems to be reaching new heights right now, although we can take some comfort from the fact that more cases are being successfully brought to court," KPMG Forensics partner Jeremy Outen said.

"However, the figures mask the true cost of fraud, which is borne by us all."

The government is the second biggest victim of fraud behind investors - who were hit by cases involving 267m of fraud.

Tax evasion, VAT scams and benefit fraud cases accounted for 218m-worth of the reported cases.

One prosecution for carousel fraud - non-payment of VAT on the sale of high cost portable items like mobile phones - was worth 57m alone.

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