Fraud affects everyone. It costs business millions of pounds each year, though the numbers of cases and scale of those losses are difficult to calculate. Police fraud squads have an ongoing caseload of about 1000 cases each year and a survey in September 2000 established that these cases alone represent at least £1,700 million in losses. These are just the more serious commercial fraud cases and the figure does not include fraud cases dealt with by the rest of the police service.
The obvious effects of fraud include:
- Insolvency, winding up
- Failure of suppliers' businesses
- Loss of employment
- Damage to profitable businesses
Fraud dealt with by government departments, especially tax fraud, cases dealt with by the Serious Fraud Office, Social Security fraud and fraud in the NHS, costs several billions each year. In addition, an unknown proportion of fraud remains unreported to the authorities.
There are also many hidden costs as a result of fraud, such as:
- Loss of working time
- Loss of business confidence
- Loss to the Revenue
- Increased insurance premiums
- Reduced staff morale
- Opportunity costs: employees' time
- The costs of investigation and prosecutions
Fraud clearly doesn't just affect everyone, it hurts most of them, too. Unchecked, fraud has the potential to lead to dire personal financial consequences and, in extreme cases, even bankruptcy. Don't let it happen to you. In these pages the police have drawn on their experience and have prepared detailed advice on a range of technical issues.
In essence, this advice is simple: Prevention is better than cure.