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This briefing note is only intended as a general statement of the law and no action should be taken in reliance on it without specific legal advice.

Office of National Statistics reports fraud on the rise
 Briefing 
Date
16 November 2017

Office of National Statistics reports fraud on the rise

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published its latest annual bulletin on crime in England and Wales.

The bulletin is based on two sources of information: police records and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). The former depends on what people report to the police (and what the police record as a crime) while the latter looks to fill in the gap in terms of what goes unreported.

The ONS found that the reporting year of June 2016 to June 2017 likely saw genuine increases in crime generally. In particular, evidence from several sources suggests a rise in the levels of fraud.

The numbers of reported fraud offences have been increasing since comparable records started in 2012. A total of 653,468 fraud offences were reported in the year ending June 2017, indicating a 4% increase as compared with the previous year. Within that figure, bank and credit fraud was the most common issue, with a 3% rise in fraudulent transactions reported on UK-issued cards. There was also a 57% increase in advanced fee frauds.

Most fraud offences are not officially reported; according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) only 17% of incidents are reported. The CSEW estimates that there were 3.3 million incidents of fraud in the year ending June 2017. 

The ONS findings include the early results of an experimental dataset designed to improve analysis of fraud-related trends: the first comparative results are expected in January 2018.

The ONS statistics also follow reports that British businesses lost £40m last year to frauds committed by their own employees.

Ultimately, fraud continues to be on the increase and it would appear that businesses need to be more alert than ever to monitor and investigate potential fraudulent behaviour, including that of their employees.