Crime Soars as Midland Fraud Cases Are Up 31pc

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Byline: CHRISTINA SAVVAS

Fraud cases in the Midlands were up 31 per cent last year as financial crime in the UK hit record levels in 2010.

Tax fraud, money laundering and complex cases involving new technology all increased in the year, with many cases directly linked to the tight economic conditions, according to the KPMG Fraud Barometer.

Forty-six cases of fraud were reported in the Midlands in the 12 months to December compared to 35 in 2009, representing a 31 per cent increase.

They ranged from a married couple in Sutton Coldfield who cheated the tax system to fund their lifestyle to a bogus dentist who used a forged degree to register with the General Dental Council and obtain employment in the NHS.

Jonathan Lovell, head of KPMG Forensic in the Midlands said: "Businesses trying to survive and individuals seeking to maintain lifestyles by whatever means will have undoubtedly driven the numbers up - and it is these same vulnerable groups that will also be the prey for many professional criminals."

According to figures from KPMG, there were 314 incidents of fraud reported last year, worth a total of pounds 1.4 billion, the highest level recorded in the 23-year history of the firm's Fraud Barometer and up 16 per cent on the previous year.

And the barometer only records cases worth in excess of pounds 100,000 that have been heard or are due to be heard in the High Courts. The real level of fraud, undetected and unprosecuted, is almost certainly a significant multiple of this figure.

The public purse bore the brunt of the cases in 2010, overtaking financial services as the main victim of fraud. Forty-two per cent of all cases targeted the Government, in total worth pounds 571 million. The number of cases increased from 59 to 70 in 2010.

Mr Lovell said: "Government agencies, like commercial businesses, have been increasingly vulnerable to the threat of fraud. …