Scotland business

More cash lost in large fraud cases in Scotland

Bundles of £20 notes Image copyright Thinkstock

The amount of money lost in high value fraud cases in Scotland increased last year by more than a quarter, according to accountants KPMG.

The total figure was £8.6m, up from £6.8 million in 2013.

KPMG's fraud barometer covers major court cases involving sums of more than £100,000.

There were 13 such cases in 2014, with the majority being committed against financial institutions by bogus customers.

In 2013 more than one third of cases coming to Scottish courts involved employees defrauding their own organisations, but the latest figures show that three quarters of total losses suffered were to con artist customers, mostly through mortgage fraud.

Cases coming to court in Scotland in 2014 included:

  • Three separate cases involving mortgage frauds in excess of £1m.
  • A bogus sheep farmer and convicted fraudster was jailed for four years after using someone else's identity to persuade a finance firm to lend him £400,000 to invest in a phoney hotel and golf course scheme in Fife.
  • A car salesman from Dumbarton was jailed for 20 months after embezzling nearly £120,000 from business customers and using the money to pay off online gambling debts.

Ken Milliken, KPMG head of forensic, Scotland, said: "Individuals who gave false information to acquire mortgages are now paying the price as banks and then police look to crack down on mortgage fraud.

"The numbers do not mean that mortgage fraud is on the increase but rather that investigation and enforcement activity is on the increase.

"There are still many embezzlers and other con artists within this year's figures, opportunistically preying on the vulnerable or taking advantage of weaknesses in company controls."

He added: "Because there will always be people willing to break the law for their own ends, the fight against fraud will never be won."

"Companies cannot afford to be complacent. As individuals, we also need to be wary of that opportunity which seems too good to be true. It is that complacency and gullibility that fraudsters thrive on."

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