Rise in young fraudsters

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Fraud committed by people under the age of 35 is booming, with data showing a 285% increase in the first half of 2014, according to a report by Big Four firm KPMG

Figures show that in the first six months of this year, fraud committed by those aged 26 – 35 hit just over £62m, accounting for almost 20% of the total £317m that was stolen across the same period.

In comparison to the rise in young fraudsters, frauds committed by those aged 46 and over fell by 72% to £88m.

Today’s fraudster is younger and just at ease with using technology and data as selling promises

Hitesh Patel – a forensic partner at KPMG UK – said the increase was down to the younger generation being “tech savvy”, as well as finding ways to stay under the radar.

Patel said, “Where once it was the jaded executive who relied on unquestioned seniority and authority to get away with dipping their hands in the till, it seems we are witnessing a changing of the guard.

“Today’s fraudster is younger and just at ease with using technology and data as selling promises. They rely on the assumption of the innocence of youth, whereas the reality is that many of these fraudsters are nothing more than a wolf in lamb’s clothing.

“It is important for UK organisations to recognise that youth doesn’t always equal innocence, as a confident and tech savvy generation comes through, adept at circumnavigating conventional controls and staying under the radar.”

Notable scams include a case where two 26 year-olds assigned victims’ phone numbers to SIM cards in their possession, before repeatedly calling premium rate lines, amassing £2.8m.

Similarly, a 30 year-old man convinced more than 400 people to invest between £20,000 and £2m in vintage wine, while actually spending their money on a Lamborghini and a five-bedroom house with a swimming pool.

The average fraud case value in this six-month period is also shown to be £2m – a 43% drop from the average £3.5m in the same period of 2013.

While this decrease could be taken as good news, Patel warns that, actually, fraudsters often test the system with smaller schemes before moving on to grander projects,

“We are witnessing the rise of comparatively small value crimes as fraudsters try to get away with theft by hoping smaller scale activities can accumulate as they go un-noticed over time,” Patel said.

“The truth is that these crimes still leave victims in their wake and a business should ignore them at their peril.

“Complacency and ’it won’t happen to me’ syndrome should not be allowed to creep in to peoples’ mindset as the battle to combat white collar crime goes on.”

Oliver Griffin

 

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  • Comment by D James

    The rise of fraud may be down partly to high-tech opportunities, but I wonder whether it may also be a moral collapse led by our banking industry, some of whose most senior members made personal fortunes from incompetent and dishonest behaviour and are facing no sanctions.