U.K. Fraud Increases 50% to $3.25 Billion, Accounting Firm Says

Publicly reported fraud in the U.K. last year rose to 2.1 billion pounds ($3.25 billion), a 50 percent increase from 2010, accounting firm BDO LLP said.

Tax crimes accounted for the highest percentage of the total value of fraud, with an average of 13 million pounds a case, BDO said in a statement. The firm also saw “a boom” in fraud in the retail sector, and a decrease in the value of cases in the financial and insurance industries.

The figures are based on publicly reported cases of fraud of more than 50,000 pounds between Dec. 1, 2010, and Nov. 30, 2011. BDO has seen a sevenfold increase since it began tracking the figures in 2003, when the total was 331 million pounds. There were 413 reported cases of fraud with an average value of 5 million pounds in 2011, BDO said.

“When the economic climate is difficult there is even more focus on the bottom line and driving out unnecessary costs, so fraud is more likely to be uncovered,” said Simon Bevan, the head of the fraud group at BDO.

According to the U.K. government, Britain is losing about 38 billion pounds a year to fraud, with the public sector bearing the largest loss, of 21 billion pounds. The finance industry saw the largest loss, 3.6 billion pounds, the National Fraud Authority, a unit of the U.K. Attorney General’s office, said a year ago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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