A recent report has suggested that the level of reported fraud cases in the North West has halved in the last twelve months, to £94 million. These figures indicate that the cost of fraud to the North West has fallen below that to the north east, Midlands and Scotland for the first time since 2007.

The figures, released this week from accountants BDO’s annual Fraud Track report, whilst on first glance indicating a positive picture for the region, have been followed up by comments from industry experts; calling the figures ‘the calm before the storm’.

Alex Marsden, forensic partner at BDO in Manchester, said: “This fall in fraud doesn’t correlate with what we are seeing in the market. The volume of cases we are dealing with has increased significantly, but the nature of the cases have changed; they are more complex and can take much longer to settle. I would expect the value of reported fraud to rocket this year.”

Indeed, I am surprised by the reported findings.  Certainly as far as we are concerned, our fraud and business crime solicitors currently have a significant number of wide-ranging fraud matters pending.  At the present time, revenue fraud (particularly VAT and duty), mortgage fraud, money laundering and insurance fraud are most prevalent.

What needs to be remembered is that the complex nature of these cases, coupled with the lengthy investigations that often undertaken in relation to this area means that work is cyclic. For example, the “boom’ in buy to let mortgages and consequent increase in frauds of this nature, which occurred about 3 years ago, has only resulted in cases coming to Court round about now, and later this year.  Large and complicated frauds, particularly those with international elements, often taken 2 to 3 years for the authorities to investigate, and then if appropriate, start Court proceedings.

As far as we are aware, there has been no reduction in reported fraud; that is the number of complaints of fraud being made to the authorities.  Again, it may take some considerable time however for any of these cases to see the light of day in Court, and therefore enter the public domain.