KPMG Fraud Barometer - Fraudsters stay bullish despite efforts to curb their crimes

Total volume of alleged fraud cases of over £100k reaching UK Crown Courts higher in 2023 compared to previous year.

Total volume of alleged fraud cases of over £100k reaching UK Crown Courts higher in 2023

  • Total volume of alleged fraud cases of over £100k reaching UK Crown Courts higher in 2023 compared to previous year; while total value hits nearly £1 billion
  • The public sector was the most common fraud victim type by value

Figures published today from KPMG UK’s Fraud Barometer, which records alleged fraud cases with a value of £100k and above, reveals that the total volume of fraud cases heard in UK Crown Courts was 226 cases in 2023, up from 221 cases in 2022. In contrast, fraud value was £992.9 million, a slight decrease from £1.1 billion the previous year.

Fraud in the UK is perceived to be at unprecedented levels and according to the Home Office, fraud accounts for over 40% of crime but receives less than 1% of police resource1. As overall fraud levels continue to rise, the latest figures appear to show the challenges that Crown Courts face in prosecuting perpetrators of this crime, and with case backlogs.

Commenting on the findings, Roy Waligora, Partner and Head of UK Investigations at KPMG, said:

“The timely prosecution of economic crime remains a challenge, so in the context of rising fraud rates, it is disappointing to see little change in the number of high-value fraud cases being heard in UK Crown Courts. Impending changes in the law intended to improve fraud prevention and reporting, including the ‘failure to prevent fraud’ offence introduced in the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 20232, combined with investment in technologies such as generative AI to improve fraud detection, could make it even harder for courts to keep up.” 

Fraud in the public sector remains persistent

The most common victim type by value during 2023 was Government (£592.7 million), accounting for over half of the total value of fraud seen last year. This was followed by Commercial Business (£164.6 million) and Investors (£121.7 million).

Roy Waligora added:

“Fraud against the government during the pandemic skyrocketed and our latest data illustrates that prosecuting offenders of this crime is an ongoing issue. With the cross-party Public Accounts Committee highlighting the need for the government to do more to recoup money lost to COVID-19 fraud, I expect to see this trend continue.”  

The cost-of-living crisis spurs insider fraud

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, it is inevitable that cases of individuals stealing from their employer will become more prevalent. In 2023, employees and management were involved in nearly half of all cases (43 and 58 cases, respectively) to the combined value of £221.3 million. The steep decline in job hiring activity covered in a recent KPMG report3 may create pressure on individuals that could lead to increased levels of insider fraud.

Roy Waligora observed:

“We are likely only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fraud cases triggered by the cost-of-living crisis, and so businesses should ensure they have appropriate safeguards in place to protect against any potentially fraudulent activity from the inside.”

Professional criminals are unrelenting

As with previous years, professional criminals were the biggest perpetrator type by volume (90 cases). Furthermore, the general public continues to be taken advantage of by fraudsters. In 2023, 78 cases of fraud were perpetrated against a member of the public, for a total value of just over £58.3 million, compared with 74 cases in 2022, totalling £137.4 million. Evidence4 also indicates that some individuals are becoming repeat victims of fraud.

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Notes to editor:


  1. Policy paper: Fraud Strategy: stopping scams and protecting the public
  2. Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023
  3. KPMG and REC UK Report on Jobs
  4. The UK Government’s Fraud Strategy


About the Fraud Barometer

The KPMG Fraud Barometer is the longest running study of its kind in the UK. It has been tracking fraud trends since 1980s and its analysis of cases has continually identified trends in the types of fraud that have dominated courts. It considers major fraud cases being heard in the UK’s Crown Courts where charges are £100k or above that have been reported on in the media. 


You can read the full report here.



KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 20 offices across the UK with approximately 18,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.96 billion in the year ended 30 September 2023.  

KPMG is a global organisation of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Legal, Tax and Advisory services. It operates in 143 countries and territories with more than 273,000 partners and employees working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients. 


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