31 July 2007 | Paul Snell
High levels of personal debt in the UK could make corporate fraud more common, according to a study.
The Fraud Barometer, published this week by auditors KPMG, found £600 million worth of fraud cases came to court in the first half of 2007. This is more than in the whole of 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 or 2004.
The government was the main victim during the first six months of the year, with £485 million of fraud committed against it. It was also found to be a "persistent and major" problem for companies, with 27 cases brought so far this year.
Cases included a wages clerk who stole more than £100,000 from a Scottish hotel by creating 10 bogus staff and paying their wages into her account for four years. There was also a finance manager at a food manufacturer in Hull who stole £850,000, while making 11 staff redundant because of the firm's financial problems.
Hitesh Patel, director at KPMG's forensic department, said: "The amount of fraud coming to court has undergone a step-change over the past couple of years, and these high levels look like they are here to stay. The good news is that more fraud is being detected and prosecuted in court. The bad news is that this is probably because more fraud is being committed."