Data obtained by RSM under the freedom of information act has revealed that businesses in the South West reported over £9 million in fraud losses last year.
The statistics, obtained from ActionFraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, show that businesses across the region submitted 1,825 reports to the police about fraud in 2016-17.
Nationally, the highest losses sustained by businesses resulted from incidents of cheque, plastic card and online bank fraud.
This was followed by corporate employee fraud and mandate fraud. Mandate fraud is where fraudsters obtain details of direct debits, standing orders or account transfer details and amend them to transfer monies to other accounts.
The highest number of reports concerned ‘retail fraud’ committed against shops and restaurants. Such crimes would include attempting to obtain a refund for stolen goods, switching labels on clothes to obtain a cheaper price or ordering food in a restaurant and leaving without paying.
The figures have been released to coincide with International Fraud Awareness Week, which runs from the 12 to 18 November.
Akhlaq Ahmed, forensic partner at leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM said: “Frauds against businesses can range from the very simple to the very sophisticated.
“Businesses across the region are collectively losing millions of pounds through fraud every year, much of which can be prevented by simple controls.
“Companies should be much more proactive in ensuring their defences, both online and offline, are fit for purpose. Those that don’t take action could find themselves very exposed.”