The total value of fraud has risen 538% to £2.11bn in the last 15 years and is up 6.5% from £1.99bn in 2016, according to new research from BDO LLP.
When it comes to type of fraud, BDO’s FraudTrack report found 550 cases of UK fraud were tax-related and the reported value of these cases ranged from £58k to £21m. The most interesting cases included a businessman who stole more than £1.6m in tax whilst pretending to his family and friends to be a spy, and a self-appointed Essex tax adviser, who instructed his clients on how to fraudulently claim £1.5m in tax repayments.
London and the South East remains the biggest hotspot for fraud in the UK in 2017 with the number of cases up by almost 30% to 176, and the total value increasing by 76.9% to £1.63bn. One of the biggest frauds in this area included a family of VAT scammers who stole £45m from taxpayers and lavished it on a fleet of luxury cars, race horses, gambling trips to Las Vegas and mansions around the world. The findings also highlighted a number of instances where celebrities have either been victims of fraud. One of the biggest celebrity-related frauds was a £100m tax scam in which 730 celebrities, including comedians, sports stars and relatives of politicians, were conned into believing they were investing in cutting-edge research and development reforestation projects in Brazil and China.
Dawn Register, Tax Dispute Resolution Partner at BDO, commented: “Recent HMRC statistics revealed that in 2017 their specialist tax fraud investigations have led to over 750 individuals being convicted and they have charged suspects in over 1,000 new cases of tax fraud. HMRC clearly wants to investigate and convict tax fraudsters using their full range of powers. This is both to act as a deterrent for others and to penalise those who contribute to the tax shortfall in the UK. Anyone thinking that they will never get caught is living a deluded life. The information and resources available to HMRC are robust as never before.”
(Source: BDO LLP)