The latest results from the KPMG Fraud Barometer have just been published and provides an analysis of UK fraud cases in 2021.

The bi-annual Barometer is based on media-reported frauds and helps businesses remain alert to new threats and respond to fraud risks in an appropriate and proactive manner.

It is the longest running survey of its kind in the UK, with data spanning over 30 years. It considers major fraud cases, as reported in the media, being heard in the UK’s Crown Courts, where charges are in excess of £100,000.

Key highlights from the release:

  • Total volume of alleged fraud cases of over £100k increased by 66% to 298 in 2021
  • Total value of alleged fraud reaching UK courts in 2021 reached almost £445m
  • Fraudsters continued to take advantage of the general public – in 2021, 93 cases of fraud were committed against a member of the public, with a value of just under £116m
  • Fraud relating to cyberattacks or the trading of stolen data rose significantly from 1 case worth £9.2m in 2020 to 5 cases worth £22.6m in 2021
  • The increase of cases heard in court relating to government fraud rose from 38 cases to a total value of £129.4m in 2020, to 72 cases with a total value of £215.3m in 2021

What’s on the horizon for fraud?

Given that all elements of the classic fraud triangle in which fraud thrives (motivation, opportunity and rationalisation) have been heightened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the prediction for increased cases remains.

With widespread concern over the significantly increased cost of living in the UK, we predict that this will be an added driver of insider threat fraud cases in 2022.The trend for cases relating to insider threats may continue to become more prevalent. This year’s data found a substantial rise in fraud committed by employees and management. This is potentially linked to weaknesses in internal controls driven by the impact of COVID-19, as businesses continue to handle new ways of remote working.

With the introduction of the BEIS White Paper and heightened focus on fraud, I would hope that it has helped tackle the prevalence of high-value fraud. With increased controls, it is only logical that fewer of these crimes slip through the net. With new regulation and heightened awareness of fraud, I hope cases as catastrophic as some outlined in the Fraud Barometer can be avoided.

Roy Waligora, Partner
Head of Investigations and Corporates Forensic
KPMG in the UK

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