Zero high value fraud cases were recorded for the first time in the first half of 2020, according to new data from KPMG.
The firm’s latest bi-annual Fraud Barometer found that the closure of courts as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown meant that there wasn’t any cases conducted with losses of more than £100k.
This compares to four cases totalling £1.2 million last year over the same period.
76 cases of alleged fraud were heard over the UK as a whole, down from 217 last year, although the value of fraud cases rose by 44% year-on-year to £460m.
However, this figure was skewed by one film piracy case, which would have cost an estimated £200 million. Excluding this case meant that the total fruad case value would have fallen by £59 million.
The findings have prompted a warning that Scottish courts could witness a tsunami of fraud cases over the next year due to a potential new wave of fraud off the back of the pandemic, as well as a backlog of cases originally meant to take place during the lockdown period.
Annette Barker, Head of Forensic at KPMG in Scotland, said: “With many of Scotland’s courts closed temporarily during the pandemic, it’s reasonable to assume the true extent of fraud committed across the country has been masked – not least as previous crises tell us that increased financial pressures on individuals can often drive increased criminal behaviour. Looking ahead, we certainly expect the fallout from the uncertainty caused by the pandemic to dramatically accelerate the levels of fraud hitting businesses, government and individuals.
“It is therefore absolutely vital that businesses and consumers remain vigilant as Scotland enters what is likely to be a very challenging economic climate which will only drive fraudsters to take full advantage.”