UK fraud hits record £1.1bn as cybercrime soars


The value of fraud committed in the UK last year topped £1bn for the first time since 2011, prompting a warning about increasing cyber crime and the risk of more large-scale scams as the economy comes under pressure, The Guardian reports.

The 55 per cent year-on-year rise in the value of fraud to £1.1bn reported in the court system was recorded by accountants KPMG, which found that while the cost of fraud was higher the number of incidents was lower.

Highlighting a dramatic rise in cybercrime, KPMG’s statistics included a £113m cold-calling scam for which the ringleader received an 11-year jail sentence in September. Feezan Hameed was caught after targeting 750 Royal Bank of Scotland customers in the biggest cyberfraud the Metropolitan police had seen.

Hitesh Patel, UK forensic partner at KPMG, said: “The figures for 2016 tell us two things. Firstly, that we can expect more of these super frauds as challenging economic circumstances place pressures on businesses and individuals and as technology becomes more sophisticated.

“Secondly, that this is going to put even more strain on law enforcement agencies who don’t have the resources to investigate every report of fraud that they receive: getting the large, often cross-border and complex frauds to court is extremely time consuming and resource intensive. This places much more emphasis on businesses and consumers to protect themselves from fraudsters who will take advantage given the opportunity.”

KMPG found £900m of fraud from just seven “super cases” – with a value of £50m or over – compared with £250m a year ago.

It pointed to a 51-year-old Leicester man jailed for six years for masterminding a £60m fraud to supply free cable TV using illicit set-top boxes, who promoted the business on internet forums and his own website.

Patel said: “Through the rapid rise of technology and online platforms, more people than ever are being targeted by fraudsters who have unrestricted access to a larger pool of victims. However, we are also seeing the internet being used by consumers who are being tempted to obtain goods and services that they have, or perhaps should have, a fair idea are not legitimate.”