Pandemic a boon to fraudsters
A recent report from the Fraud Advisory Panel has revealed that the Coronavirus pandemic created the perfect opportunity for fraudsters to profit.
As it points out, the pandemic created an unprecedented confusion of unfamiliar ways to do familiar things and, even better, took us all into cyberspace, exposing more of us to online criminal activity.
According to the report, during 2020 and 2021, self-identified fraud against individuals leapt by a whopping 41 per cent.
Meanwhile, criminals cashed in after March 2020 when the Chancellor unveiled a financial support package in a bid to keep the country solvent; official estimates of fraud relating to Bounce Back Loans (BBLs), for example, cost the Exchequer £4.3 billion in bogus claims.
In addition, criminals cashing in on procurement contracts will have cost the Government £9 billion, almost half of which came from supplying unsuitable personal protection equipment (PPE).
There are many other examples of how criminals profited from the pandemic and the worrying thing is that many of them appear to have escaped justice, as the Criminal Justice System (CJS) was under-resourced even at the outset of the crisis.
While more police officers are being resourced, there is still a serious shortage of experienced detectives and digital forensic specialists.
The report welcomes the Government’s forthcoming fraud strategy but also suggests a more systematic and thorough approach to counter-fraud checks.
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Investigating fraud is a specialist and complex activity and is an area that cannot be underestimated for business health.
“Forensic accountants use their expertise in finance to investigate fraud and other financial misrepresentation.
“They can also help business owners to maintain a good level of security in the firm.”
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