Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Public sector fraud on the up

Fraud against the UK Government has risen 43% since the recession as criminals adopt an increasingly businesslike approach, new figures have found.

Following highs of £679m in 2006/07, such fraud dropped to £391m in 2008/09 - due to concentrated action against the theft of VAT. But recently, levels have surged back up by 43% to £693m in 2010/11, according to KPMG.

In the North East and Yorkshire fraud against the government that reached court during 2010/11 totalled £15,248,000, across 4 cases, which included a £12m VAT theft by a former secretary who lived a luxury lifestyle on the back of a fraudulent vehicle import business.

There was also a former tax office worker who was jailed for sharing insider knowledge with other fraudsters, enabling them to apply for £3m in false tax repayments.

Sara Smith, of KPMG’s Newcastle forensic practice, said: “Financial criminals are now becoming more businesslike and methodical. The current generation of organised crime is targeting fraud - making payment systems, such as banking, tax and benefits vulnerable to attack.”

The KPMG Government Fraud Barometer found that fraud against Government, perpetrated by professional criminals reached £527m in 2010/11 – accounting for more than three quarters of the total.

While the number of actual cases against professional fraudsters dropped 15 per cent from 33 in 2009/10 to 28 in 2010/11, the average case value has more than doubled over this time from £8m to £18m.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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