Fraud cases in the UK have increased substantially over the last two years. Scamming techniques used by perpetrators are constantly evolving, meaning they’re becoming more sophisticated, and, as a result, can be more difficult for businesses to contain.
In fact, more than half (64%) of British businesses have experienced fraud, corruption or financial crime in the last 24 months, according to one study.
Behavioural changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic may have exacerbated the number of cyber-related fraud cases, as more people operate online rather than in-person across numerous devices, and hybrid working becomes the norm.
Fraud often increases during times of economic difficulty, which is currently being felt by consumers and businesses across the country as the cost-of-living crisis bites. The UK is on the brink of a recession, which can lead people to be more financially vulnerable, prompting fraudsters to strike. It may also drive more opportunistic fraud.
While many people associate financial crime with computer misuse, or phishing attempts, some fraudsters will also target mobile phones due to the volume of personal information held on them. From banking app log-in credentials to photographs, stolen phones can lead to identity theft and bank accounts being emptied.
With the rise in hybrid working, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has seen more people use personal devices for work activity. But this can also lead employees to expose the business to risk – e.g. if a criminal steals a device that can give it access to the employee network.
How Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help in the fight against fraud
AI can help businesses to tackle fraud by detecting, preventing and managing cases in real-time.
When fraud is suspected, AI can combine with machine learning to spot and thwart sophisticated or nuanced attacks before they happen, and flag it to the relevant teams for further investigation.
Police forces are also using AI to identify potential fraud hotspots, and use evidence-based policing to combine traditional policing with AI to improve resource allocation, and identify fraud trends faster and more accurately, such as victim demographics and opportunities for fraud prevention.
The geographic range of fraud across the UK
According to the National Crime Agency, fraud is not only prevalent but now the most “commonly experienced crime in the UK.”
As the Government looks to tackle the complex issue of fraud by harnessing the capabilities of private and public sector businesses, which locations are seeing the biggest rise in the crime?
Using Police Force data referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), SAS analysed thousands of fraud cases to understand how the picture looks, both regionally and on a national scale.
In November 2022, there were 27,909 cases of fraud referred by police forces to NFIB in the 45 largest police forces across the UK. This is actually 5% less than the same period a year before - when the figure stood at 29,395. However, this does not take into account miscellaneous referrals which are not attributed to a particular police force.
Regionally, the figure varies. Police Scotland had the highest increase - with 67% more fraud referrals than the previous year at 1,200, up from 716. Police Scotland comprises 13 geographical divisions - including Edinburgh, Fife, Highland and Islands, Greater Glasgow and Ayrshire.
The force in Gwent, Wales, followed shortly after with a more modest 21.6% increase. The City of London, Durham and Gloucestershire also had high increases in reported fraud.
At the other end of the spectrum, Dyfed-Powys in Wales had the biggest drop in fraud cases referred to the NFIB, from 507 in November 2021 to 286 in November 2022 - a fall of 43%.
Humberside Police, which covers four authorities of Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire, also experienced a decline in referred fraud cases - from 502 to 357.