The number of alleged fraud cases reaching courts in Yorkshire have more than doubled as professional criminals target the region, according to new research.
KPMG’s Fraud Barometer, which measures alleged fraud cases with losses of £100,000 or more in the UK courts, found that there were 16 cases in Yorkshire during the first six months of 2018, with a combined value of 44.3m.
The figures reveal that the number of cases has more than doubled and the value of alleged fraud has more than tripled compared to the corresponding period in the first half of 2017 when only six cases with a value of £12.4m were recorded.
Across Yorkshire and the North East, KPMG found that there were 32 cases during the first six months of 2018, with a combined value of £54.5m. The rate of alleged fraud has already surpassed the total value of fraud cases in the whole of 2017, which were worth £32.7m across 21 cases.
Professional criminals are alleged to have been responsible for nearly half of cases (47 per cent) and a quarter of the total value in Yorkshire and the North East. Meanwhile, government organisations have been victims of around two in five cases (38 per cent), the most targeted group, accounting for a similar proportion of total fraud value (37 per cent).
Annette Barker, partner and head of consulting in the North, said: “Professional criminals are the main driving force behind the staggering rise in alleged fraudulent activity we see coming through the courts in Yorkshire and the North East.
“Similar to the national picture, these gangs are often turning to smuggling to evade duties and taxes. While these figures point to a worrying level of criminality, it is encouraging that the authorities are having success in bringing these cases to court.”
She added: “While there is a focus on professional criminals, the sheer scale of these cases can mask the underlying flow of more typical fraud cases we see committed against businesses, investors and financial institutions.
“The message for businesses and individuals across Yorkshire and the North East is to remain vigilant, particularly as technology is increasingly used by fraudsters.”
Among the cases to reach the courts during the period, a man in Bradford was sentenced to the maximum suspended sentence after being convicted of defrauding a bank where he worked of £380,000, while a barrister was jailed for 18 months in Leeds after failing to submit VAT or self-assessment returns which led to HMRC incurring losses of £138,500.