Corporate return of the con artist

Vivien Osborne, forensic director at KPMG in Leeds
Vivien Osborne, forensic director at KPMG in Leeds
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Old-fashioned con artists are making a corporate comeback, according to accountants and business advisers KPMG.

The company’s latest ‘Fraud Barometer’ shows a resurgence of traditional scams such as identity and procurement fraud, with ‘insider fraud’ accounting for 80 per cent of companies’ losses.

KPMG says that rogue traders and professional criminals have been behind the big fraud cases in recent years.

However, the latest bi-annual Fraud Barometer shows a rise in individuals committing more traditional scams such as Ponzi schemes, identity theft, cheque fraud and procurement fraud.

In Yorkshire 26 large frauds – valued at £100,000 plus – reached the region’s Crown Courts during 2012, including frauds with a total value of £12.7 million in the last six months. These included three cases of mortgage fraud, totalling £880,000, against several financial organisations, a bank teller who abused his position to defraud his own parents and a procurement fraud by a finance manager who established and paid a bogus company to help him pay his debts.

Vivien Osborne, KPMG’s Forensic director in Yorkshire, said: “We are seeing individuals looking to feather their nests through ripping off employers, banks or the government.

“In the last few years we have become used to sophisticated frauds at eye-watering values.

“More recently the total value of fraud has dropped in the absence of so-called fraud ‘super’ cases, but the old-fashioned con man hasn’t given up his tricks.

“Times may be tough but the data shows that some people are unwilling to give up the lifestyles they’ve become accustomed to.”

Vivien Osborne predicts that fraud is likely to increase as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s measures hit social welfare budgets.

“For all the talk of austerity, the measures only really kick in this year and we expect to see an increase in this kind of fraud as personal pressures mount for individuals,” she said.