The number of major fraud cases reaching UK courts spiked dramatically last year, according to research from KPMG.

The accountancy’s fraud barometer recorded a 78% year-on-year rise to 453 cases of alleged fraud individually worth more than £100,000.

Taken together, the value of the cases reached £1.2 billion in 2018, including one ‘super case’ worth more than £50 million.

Source: KPMG

There were many smaller value cases between £10 million and £50 million, in areas such as evasion of duty, VAT fraud, investment fraud, loans and mortgages, counterfeit goods, pensions and social benefits. 

KPMG forensic partner James Maycock said: ‘Sophisticated technology and social engineering have become closer to the norm for ‘professional’ criminals – for example, the number of cases of ‘account takeover’ frauds in the fraud barometer has more than doubled, from 13 cases to 34, with diversion fraud, identity theft and push-payment fraud being the most common methods.

Source: KPMG

‘Getting the large, often cross-border and complex frauds to court is both time-consuming and resource intensive. This places much more emphasis on businesses and consumers to protect themselves from a growing number of fraudsters who will take advantage given the opportunity.’

A surge in insurance fraud saw 19 cases worth £17 million appearing in UK courts in the past year, with the latter figure larger than that seen in the years from 2014 to 2017 combined.

Source: KPMG

There was also a large increase in the value of fraud cases coming to courts involving rogue tradesmen – often targeting the elderly – with the number such cases worth more than £100,000 growing to 18, with a total value of £7 million.

Last year also saw the highest value ever recorded of duty evasion – around £89 million – with the number of fraud cases related to tobacco products more than doubling, from 16 to 41.