Rising company fraud drives growth at investigations firm

The boss of a corporate investigations company has revealed plans to turn the business into a million-pound operation after a rise in fraud cases.

Richard York, general manager of GSL Dardan Investigations – a division of Norwich-based security firm GSL Dardan – said he had seen a steep increase in companies approaching him to investigate fraud and employee theft in the past two years.

The company employs four full-time investigators, about three administrators and uses a network of contractors nationally, many of whom are former police detectives.

Mr York, himself a former Metropolitan Police detective, said firms tightening up on costs and salaries had left some staff looking to supplement their income from petty theft or fraud, with recent estimates putting the cost of business fraud nationally at �12bn.

And he said cuts to police budgets could also see private investigation companies take on more roles which have previously been undertaken by police.

Mr York said: 'We have seen a substantial increase in demand for our services.

'Fraud has gone up. We used to get large jobs, taking one month full time, once or twice per year.

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'Now every month we take on a big client with a big problem that we need to put significant resource into.

'Over the past two to three years we have seen a dramatic increase in demand.'

He added: 'In an economic downturn companies are less able to offer pay rises and there are less opportunities for overtime.

'People's incomes are being squeezed. It doesn't surprise me that people on low incomes with big debts think of alternative methods to make money.'

Mr York said he was expecting a 50pc increase in demand in 2011, with turnover set to rise from about �350,000 last year to �500,000, and said he was hoping for sales of �1m in 2012, partly as a result of public sector spending cuts.

He added: 'Part of the effect of the economic squeeze being placed on policing will be to push the type of services we are providing to the forefront.'

The company, formerly MacRae York & Thompson, was rebranded as GSL Dardan Investigations earlier this month after being sold to Dardan Group in 2006.

GSL Dardan, based at the Longwater Business Park in Costessey, near Norwich, is one of the region's largest security firms, employing about 550.

It was formed in 2009 from the merger of ISL Dardan Security and Gardwell Security, part of Great Yarmouth-based marine services group Gardline, which remains a 50pc shareholder in the merged business.