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Fraud Advisory Panel publish fraud report

The Fraud Advisory Panel (the “FAP”) has recently published a comprehensive assessment of fraud in the COVID-19 pandemic entitled: “Running on empty – how the pandemic revealed a wasted decade” (the “Report”). The Report encompasses all forms of fraud in a variety of sectors with a specific focus on those frauds which flourished during the “perfect storm” of the pandemic. The statistics are startling and the FAP gives a stark warning that unless lessons are learned, the UK will again be caught with its “…institutional defences down.”

The Report really is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Across the two pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, fraud against individuals increased by 41% and computer misuse more than doubled.
  • Internet fraud disproportionately affects people in the UK; a UK resident is more than twice as likely as a US citizen to fall victim to an internet fraud. For every French internet fraud victim there are 134 UK victims. For Germans the equivalent figure is 170.
  • Risk of a pandemic was acknowledged, and the pandemic was even foreseen; yet the UK was caught with its institutional defences down with the NHS, police, criminal justice system and local government resources all stretched to breaking point.
  • Government-backed financial packages were hastily rolled out with poor planning and co-ordination leading to an over reliance on self-certification and lack of due diligence which has resulted in soaring rates of fraud particularly with respect to Bounce Back Loans.
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the British Business Bank (BBB) now believe that between one-third and half of all loans will be lost to fraud or insolvency.
  • Prospects of recovery are slim as resource constraints continue to hamper those institutions tasked with recovery.
  • The FAP’s wish list for the future includes:
    • Compulsory financial education in schools (including fraud awareness)
    • Companies required to design-out fraud vulnerabilities from their systems, products and services
    • Policing reform in respect of the investigation of fraud
    • A more systematic approach to counter-fraud checks across government and society
    • Dismantling the obstacles to counter-fraud data-sharing
    • A better understanding of the experience of fraud victims and funding to deliver the support required

They say prevention is better than cure and the same is true here. Recovery will be difficult and expensive. It is frustrating that the voice of the FAP and similar bodies was not heard by the Government at the right times, but we cannot now change what has passed. However, as a society – from government (both central and local), through to businesses and individuals – we must learn from the mistakes of the past and take action to change the future.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here: Running on empty

Should you suspect that you are a victim of fraud or other wrongdoing, please do not hesitate to get in touch at hello@tenetlaw.co.uk

[1] Arun Chauhan (founder of Tenet) is a trustee of the Fraud Advisory Panel which is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (charity number 1108863; company number 04327390).

Published on July 22, 2022

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