UK Serious Fraud Cases Hit Highest Level for 21 Years; but Wales Sees a Slight Dip in Number of Court Hearings
Byline: Sin Barry
THE value of major fraud cases in Wales has fallen back marginally although for the UK as a whole the number of cases has reached the highest level in 21 years, new figures shows.
The latest KPMG Forensic Fraud Barometer - which tracks serious fraud with charges in excess of pounds 100,000 being heard in UK courts - found that pounds 7.3m worth of cases reached the courts in Wales and the south west of England in the first half of 2009. This is in line with the pounds 7.5m worth of cases in the same period of 2008.
However, there was a reduction in the number of cases being heard, from 16 in the first half of 2008 to 12 so far in 2009.
Cases which reached the courts included: a police records clerk from Maesteg, RCT, jailed for 12 months for selling fake designer clothes on the internet; a former financial adviser from Gorseinon who was jailed for four years for a pounds 450,000 fraud, carried out between 2001 and 2008; and a North Wales plumber jailed for nine months for mortgage fraud after applying for a pounds 242,000 mortgage by claiming he earned pounds 72,000 as a manager.
Geoff Mesher, head of forensic services at KPMG's Cardiff office, said: "These figures aren't perhaps as bad as expected, but the worst is yet to come. It will be a number of years before the impact of the recession fully feeds through into the fraud statistics.
"Hard times mean more people driven to fraud by personal pressures, and more investors willing to believe in cooked-up invest-menschemes. At the same time companies too remain vulnerable to the threat within - their staff - as evidenced by the cases of employee fraud we have been seeing in the first half of the year."
For the UK as a whole more than 160 cases of serious fraud with charges in excess of pounds 100,000 came to UK courts in the first half of this year - the highest number of cases in a six month period in the 21 year history of the barometer.
The cases had a total value of pounds 636m which, if replicated in the second half of the year, would also lead to the highest value of fraud in the barometer's history (currently pounds 1. …