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28 July 2014, 06:40
Con-men in Scotland have been caught with over three times as much money in the first half of the year than in the same period last year, according to accountants.
Some £6.3 million of high value fraud was prosecuted in Scottish courts in the first six months of 2014, compared with £1.9 million in January to June last year, KPMG said.
Scottish courts dealt with eight cases compared with five at the start of 2013, including a boxing promotor jailed for three-and-a-half years for a £1.3 million mortgage fraud, a finance boss given three years for embezzling nearly £600 million from her employer and a farmer jailed for 27 month for a £658,000 VAT scam.
The rising value of fraud in Scotland contrasts with a drop of nearly two-fifths across the UK, where fraud takings fell to £317 million even though there was a slight rise in the number of cases from 148 to 159.
Ken Milliken, head of forensic for KPMG in Scotland said: "While the value of fraud across the UK is dropping, the picture in Scotland tells a different story.
"Embezzlement and fraud cases regularly come to the Scottish criminal courts, suggesting that although the economy may be back on track, the pace isn't moving quickly enough for some.
"At a time when cyber crime is making headlines the allure of making easy money through old-fashioned methods remains strong for those willing to risk all in pursuit of wealth.''
UK cases at the start of this year point to a "changing of the guard'' from older to younger people, KPMG said.
Frauds by those aged 26-35 were valued at just over £62 million, an increase of 285%, while frauds by those aged 46 and over fell by 71% to £91 million.
Two 26-year-olds were caught stealing mobile phone numbers and running up £2.8 million of premium rate call charges, while a 30-year old bought a Lamborghini and a luxury house with the millions he stole by conning over 400 people into investing in supposedly vintage wine.
Mr Milliken added: "Where once it was the jaded executive who relied on unquestioned seniority and authority to get away with dipping their hands in the till, it seems we are witnessing a changing of the guard.
"Today's fraudster is younger and just as at ease with using technology and data as selling promises. They rely on the assumption of the innocence of youth, whereas the reality is that many of these fraudsters are nothing more than a wolf in lamb's clothing.
"It is important for UK organisations to recognise that youth doesn't always equal innocence, as a confident and tech savvy generation comes through, adept at circumnavigating conventional controls and staying under the radar.''
The average UK case value fell by 43% to £2 million, although the number of smaller employee-perpetrated frauds valued at between a million and £10 million increased more than ten-fold.