This year’s North East Fraud Forum was a great event, it flowed well with excellent speakers and a cohesive theme – the key to preventing fraud is through the sharing of information. Surprisingly though it is an uphill struggle to get companies and victims of fraud to do just that.
Let me start by telling you a few things that I learned about fraud.
The most likely victim is a middle aged man, earning over £50 thousand a year and living in a rural area. Oh dear! There were nearly 4 million frauds in the UK in the year between July 18 and June 19 and only 750 thousand were reported to police. The vast majority go unreported and it is likely that the figure of actual cases is much higher. The cost of fraud to the UK is £190 billion a year. One in 17 adults has been a victim of fraud. Last year the retail sector saw 135% increase in online fraud while, while closer to home, Northumberland saw a 63% increase.
Fraud is closely associated with organised crime, especially cyber crime and 69% of fraud involves at least one incidence of cyber crime. If I understood the speaker correctly, the UK is seen by the rest of the world as a jurisdiction of risk – a place where criminal money can be and is, transacted and held.
Criminals like fraud, or economic crime to use its latest euphemism. The great thing about fraud is that the odds are good. The risk of capture is low while the returns can be very high and if you do get caught, you will learn about lots of new opportunities from fellow criminals when you are in jail. Unlike those of us on the outside, in prison everyone shares information.
On the other hand, economic crime is an opportunity. It is a national priority and policing fraud adds to a healthy economy, it makes the country a better place to do business. But fighting fraud requires a different set of skills, those which take long hours and experience to learn and technology will be at the forefront. We will see cyber security and fraud working much more closely over the next few years along with data analysis.
Uncooperation is the main chink in the armour of the battle against fraud. The sharing of information is the main weapon in the fight. Fraud is a non competitive issue and if there is one thing you can do to help prevent fraud, it is to share your data.