Reported fraud doubled in 2023

20th February 2024

The value of reported UK fraud increased to £2.3bn in 2023, more than double the £1.1bn recorded in 2022 and the second largest annual fraud value recorded by BDO in 20 years.

The report found that the number of reported cases rose by 18% to a three-year high, with high-value cases over £50m increasing by 60% year-on-year. BDO attributed the rise to online scams, phishing, system breaches, and authorised push payment transactions.

However, the true level of fraud is likely to be significantly higher, BDO has warned, as some organisations choose not to report the frauds they suffer. The latest Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed that fewer than one in seven fraud offences are reported to the police.

The factors behind the rise include the large increase in online scams, phishing and system breaches, and huge spikes in Authorised Push Payment (APP) transactions when fraudsters trick the unwary into transferring money to them.

One particularly concerning development is the rise in online fraud factories or cyberfraud centres, with reports of hundreds of thousands of individuals being trafficked to work for crime syndicates. The UN has recently estimated that such fraud factories are generating billions of dollars in revenue.

Looking back at the 10-year trend of data, the report identifies that not only are the number of reported cases of fraud rising but the amounts involved are also getting bigger.

BDO has warned that this trend is likely to continue as new fraud-enabling technology and AI present new opportunities for fraudsters.

Kaley Crossthwaite, BDO Forensic Partner said “We are not surprised by this increase in reported fraud numbers which is consistent with the surge in frauds that our forensic investigations teams are seeing on the ground.

“Many people choose not to report fraud because of shame or embarrassment. Businesses are also reticent about coming forward because of fears around negative publicity, reputational damage, and a lack of faith that the authorities will take action.

“While we hope the introduction of the Government’s Online Fraud Charter will encourage the technology sector to narrow the opportunities for online fraud, the sad reality is that the fraudsters will be looking to stay one step ahead by exploiting new options like AI.

“All businesses are at risk, and many need to take urgent action to bolster their defences against fraud and financial crime. The ‘failure to prevent fraud’ offence introduced by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 may just provide the extra incentive to do so.”