Cases rise in the Midlands as fraudsters take advantage of Covid-19 impact

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The Midlands has seen a significant increase in the volume and value of major fraud cases in the first half of 2021.

The region’s courts heard 27 cases with a combined value of £20m during the first half of the year, compared to just eight cases during the same period in 2020, with a value of £9.6m.

The East Midlands courts saw the majority of the action, as its courts heard over half (14) of the Midlands region’s total cases, accounting for £12.6m in value – compared to just £5.6m and four cases in 2020.

In the West Midlands, however, while the volume of cases more than tripled from four in 2020 to 13 in 2021, the value almost doubled from £4m to £7.6m.

While most of the region’s cases involved fraudsters targeting the general public (10 cases) and commercial business (nine cases), it was those targeting the Government (£6.3m) and general public (£6.8m) which resulted in the highest value of losses.

The data also showed a steep increase in the number of fraud cases committed by employees and professional criminals.

Julie Bruce, forensic director at KPMG in the Midlands, said: “There’s no doubt in my mind that fraudsters have and will continue to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and they are increasingly becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. It’s interesting that we’re seeing significantly more cases with high values in the East Midlands than the West, however this could be due to the hefty backlog of cases that the region’s courts are still battling to get through. With that in mind, what we’re seeing currently could be just the tip of the iceberg.

”Typically whenever there are periods of challenge and uncertainty, you do see a spike in fraudulent activity. Many of us now rely heavily on tech and devices, due to the shift in work and life over the last 15 months, so it’s vital for both individuals and organisations to remain vigilant and take the necessary steps to protect their data and cash from fraudsters.”

Case studies to reach the region’s courts during this period include:
A Nottinghamshire bookkeeper who stole over £800,000 from her vintage wine shop employer for 12 years
A company secretary from Gainsborough who stole over £1.7m from her employers to buy several horses and equestrian equipment
A Birmingham pharmacist who stole and unlawfully supplied over £1mworth of prescription drugs