A FRAUD boom fuelled by the recession, public sector cuts and technology have left the authorities scrambling to investigate more with less.
A host of new cyber scams and a reduction in police funding have raised fears that more criminals could slip through the net.
At the same time a rise in benefit cheats is being predicted after Sheffield Council announced plans to halve its investigation team.
And accountants are forecasting a surge in public sector fraud as disgruntled, redundancy-threatened staff or suppliers – take advantage of reduced security.
Graham Wragg, head of the 35-strong South Yorkshire Police Economic Crime Unit, said the force had to make 20 per cent savings over four years and the unit would be affected ‘just like everyone else’.
Mr Wragg said they had seen a rise in traditional scams, such as benefit or mortgage fraud, but online attacks were the big concern.
He said: “Fraud always grows in times of recession.
“But online fraud is the biggest threat to anyone, and the most difficult to investigate.
“Fraudsters can hide their location by routing it through different servers.
“The public should be wary of any unsolicited communications online.
A new body, the National Fraud Investigation Bureau, was established last year to act as a national hub for fraud reporting and produce a national picture.
Mr Wragg said he hoped it would bridge the gap left by reduced local services.
He said: “I’m hopeful there won’t be a reduction in our investigative capacity.”