New survey showcases show significant drop in value and volume of alleged fraud in Scotland

Annette Barker (KPMG UK)

FIGURES published today from KPMG UK’s Fraud Barometer, which records alleged fraud cases with a value of £100k and above, shows the number of reported fraud cases outside of the London region rose to 183 cases in 2023, up from 172 in 2022. Within this, the Midlands had 37 cases reaching Crown Courts last year, second only to London with 43 cases.

In terms of reported fraud values of £100k and above, outside of the London region, this decreased by 47% to £291.5 million in 2023, down from almost £552 million in 2022. Yorkshire and the Midlands, in particular, saw the biggest drop in reported fraud values in 2023, falling by 88% and 62% respectively, due to the absence of super cases.

However, fraud values in the London region rose to £701.4 million across 43 cases in 2023, up significantly from £577.5 million across 49 cases in 2022. This was largely driven by one super case with a value of approximately £416 million involving tax fraud. The North West region had the second highest value of fraud cases with £122.1 million, a significant increase from £24.7 million in 2022.

Commenting on the findings, Annette Barker, UK Head of Forensic, KPMG UK, said: 

“Given that London is a major financial hub, it is understandable why the capital is the UK’s fraud hotspot. However, the high levels of fraud in the North West and the Midlands, which both have less financial activity than London, show that nowhere is safe from fraudsters.” 

Professional criminals elude the law in the London region

Although the London region continued to have the highest volume and value of fraud cases, fewer professional criminals were brought to court for alleged fraud offences in 2023 compared to the previous year. In 2023, 18 cases totalling £123.7 million were heard in the capital, compared to 24 cases worth £265.7 million in 2022.

Last year, the North West saw the biggest jump in terms of fraud value committed by professional criminals, up to £101 million (11 cases), from £8.1 million in 2022 (nine cases). Whereas the North East and Yorkshire regions saw the biggest decrease in value, down to £8.6 million in 2023 (15 cases) from £269.5 million in 2022 (11 cases).

Reflecting on the data, Annette Barker, said: 

“As fraud has grown in sophistication and complexity, it has, therefore, become harder to prosecute professional criminals for their acts. Fraudsters appear to have wised up to this, committing even more crimes.”  

Cases involving the Scottish public plummet

Scotland saw a significant drop in terms of the value and volume of alleged fraud against the general public. In 2022, there were 11 cases to the value of £10.3 million, while in 2023, there were just five cases to the value of slightly over £1 million. Yet, a recent report revealed a 68% increase in fraud cases in Scotland over the last five years. 

Annette Barker added:

“With the Scottish Police Authority reporting fraud reaching unprecedented levels, the volume of reported fraud cases reflected in the Fraud Barometer suggest a more nuanced situation. What we do know is that fraudsters are persistent, and individuals and organisations in Scotland should remain alert to the risk of fraud.”   

The national picture

Nationally, the total volume of fraud cases heard in UK Crown Courts was 226 cases in 2023, up from 221 cases in 2022. In contrast, fraud value was £992.9 million, a slight decrease from £1.1 billion the previous year. As overall fraud levels continue to rise, the latest figures appear to show the challenges that Crown Courts face in prosecuting perpetrators of this crime, and with case backlogs.

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