Region’s businesses hit as fraud rises 75pc

Fraud. PA Feature TOPICAL Fraud.

Fraud. PA Feature TOPICAL Fraud. - Credit: PA

Fraud cases have spiked across the region despite some businesses failing to report crimes to the police, a study has found.

The east of England has seen a 75pc surge in the value of reported fraud cases in the past year from £4.1m to £7.2m, according to BDO's FraudTrack research.

The study – which analyses all reported UK fraud cases over £50,000 – also recorded a rise in the number of fraud cases in the east, from 19 in 2013 to 27 last year.

But despite the upward trend, the region still has the lowest levels compared to the rest of the UK, with the North West holding the highest value (£50m) outside of London and the south east.

Marilyn Martin, partner and head of BDO in East Anglia, said: 'Fraud in the east of England is bucking the national trend, with both values and volumes on the up. However, the region is still reporting relatively low levels of fraud compared to other parts of the country.

'There is still real concern that the vast majority of both public and private sector fraud is not reported, with business owners not wanting to involve the police in such matters unless absolutely necessary. With that in mind, the true cost to the region is likely to be even higher.'

Cases in the east of England included two former police officers being involved in a £1.1m fraud; a man who set fire to his £1m business to make fraudulent insurance claims; a pharmacy boss who sold stolen medicines and equipment worth more than £400,000; a book keeper in Ipswich who stole £500,000 to fund a lavish lifestyle; and a sophisticated £300,000 inheritance scam that tricked elderly people.

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'There are many large corporates based in the east of England that are vulnerable to fraudsters and taking advantage of their internal control weaknesses,' she added. 'Most frauds could be prevented by some simple and robust control measures that are far too often overlooked in the race for increased revenues and profits.'

Across the UK the total value of fraud fell 31pc to £720m in 2014 – the lowest value since the study began in 2003.

However, the total number of reported cases rose to a record 546 in 2014 compared to 525 the year before.

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