The UK clocked up £732m worth of fraud in 2015, up from £717m the year before, with crimes committed in London and the South East accounting for more than half the value

Hayley Kirton
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Financial institutions in London and the South East were particularly badly hit (Source: Getty)

Frauds in the UK in 2015 were worth £732m, up from £717m in 2014.

A report out today by professional services firm KPMG, which studied fraud cases that reached UK courts with losses worth £100,000 or more, also discovered that the average value of fraud per case studied had risen to £2.4m, up from £2m in 2014.

Crimes committed in London and the South East accounted for over half the fraud taking place across the UK, although, at just over £380m, the amount involved actually fell by 21 per cent compared to the previous year's figures.

Meanwhile, fraud cost financial institutions in London and the South East over £157m in 2015, up by a massive 779 per cent compared to 2014.

"Fraudsters and criminal gangs see financial institutions as a series of processes that they need to overcome, but once penetrated the rewards can be bountiful," said Chris Wheeler, forensic director for KPMG in the London region. "While large organisations focus on regulatory efforts to combat financial crime at the front end, such as money laundering, the data shows vulnerability to old-fashioned back office fraud."

The study also highlighted an increase in the number of fraudsters who were targeting those in financial distress, with many preying on people who were desperate to reduce their debts.

"With interest rate rises possible in 2016, such debt restructuring schemes are, sadly, likely to remain popular with fraudsters," remarked Hitesh Patel, UK forensic partner at KPMG. "People struggling with their rising living costs and who are naturally looking for help will be especially vulnerable to falling into the webs woven by such fraudsters."

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