Levels of white-collar fraud have increased by 76% in 2009, with more than £2bn going missing, as managers take a closer look at figures during the recession.
The figures published by accountancy firm BDO revealed 2009 saw the steepest increase in white-collar fraud since the company began reporting the data seven years ago, with the average value of each fraud now more than £5m, compared to £1.8m in 2003.
BDO said management fraud was up 48%, and that the best sales staff often turned out to be the “best fraudsters”.
But BDO warned the levels of fraud could treble over the next two years, the Guardian has reported.
Simon Bevan, BDO’s head of fraud, said: “Based on my experience of the two previous recessions, I expect that reported fraud will treble over the next two years. There has always been a lag effect, with reported fraud continuing to rise for at least a couple of years after businesses start to come out of the recession.”
Fraud in the financial sector increased by 70% to £1.34bn, but BDO estimated 90% of larger frauds in the sector were not reported.
According to the survey, most fraudsters were aged 20-39, and the vast majority – nearly £1.8bn – was in London and the South East.
In total, 81% of frauds were carried out to fund a more lavish lifestyle.