SEON research unveils UK’s biggest business fraud ‘hot spots’

UK-centric research conducted by anti-fraud expert SEON has revealed the areas with the highest rates of business fraud per 100,000 members of the population. The research uses data from Action Fraud and records both the total number of fraud reports in each area as well as the total number of business or corporate fraud cases. It then compares this to population data, giving relative rates of fraud and business fraud in each geographical area. 

The City of London is found to have the highest rate of corporate fraud per 100,000 people in the country at 100.92 cases. This is arguably of little surprise, given that the City of London is the centre of the UK’s financial industry and home to a huge number of businesses, while also playing host to a comparably small number of individuals.

Nottinghamshire has the second-highest rate of corporate fraud in the country, making the county a much riskier place in which to do business than the majority of the country.

In third place is North Yorkshire. This largely rural county is home to several well-off small cities and market towns, such as York and Harrogate, which act as business hubs for the area and are likely the focus of fraudsters’ attentions in the region.

UK’s business fraud ‘hot spots’

RankPolice ForcePopulationCorporate Fraud ReportsCorporate Fraud Reports per 100,000 People
1City of London10,90011100.92
2Nottinghamshire1,170,50016313.93
3North Yorkshire831,60010312.39
4Cumbria499,800489.60
5Hertfordshire1,195,700927.69
6Kent1,868,2001236.58
7North Wales703,400466.54
8Cheshire1,069,600686.36
9Humberside934,400596.31
10Gwent598,200376.19

County Durham, the territory policed by the Durham Constabulary, has the highest average losses per report of business fraud in the country. The huge sum involved is more than three times higher than every region other than second place, which it is still noticeably higher than.

Areas with most costly incidents

RankPolice ForceCorporate Fraud ReportsCorporate Fraud LossesAverage Losses per Corporate Fraud Report
1Durham6£762,800£127,133
2City of London11£1,300,000£118,182
3Lancashire43£1,700,000£39,535
4Warwickshire14£545,200£38,943
5Merseyside25£599,400£23,976
6PSNI54£1,000,000£18,519
7Derbyshire21£387,200£18,438
8Metropolitan305£4,900,000£16,066
9Thames Valley101£1,600,000£15,842
10Greater Manchester110£1,700,000£15,455

In second place is the City of London. While still being much higher than the majority of other regions, it’s perhaps surprising that the City of London didn’t top the leader board in this instance given that it plays host to the UK’s finance industry.

Lancashire is the third most expensive place to be hit by business fraud. While substantially lower than the average losses incurred in County Durham and in the City of London, the figure involved is still high enough to put some small companies out of business altogether.

The City of London places top as the region most susceptible to all forms of fraud, with 143,092 reports per 100,000 people. The second region most susceptible to all forms of fraud, with 568 reports of fraud per 100,000 people, is the area covered by Dyfed-Powys Police in Wales. 

Northumbria tops the list as the most expensive part of the UK in which to fall victim to any type of fraud, with average losses per incident standing at £11,661.

*Further information concerning the SEON research results is available online at https://seon.io/resources/business-fraud-hotspots/ 

Fraud and cyber crime

UK residents and businesses have seen financial losses of £2.5 billion from fraud and cyber crime over the course of the past year, a new study reveals. Research undertaken by Payback Ltd analysed data drawn from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to reveal that the UK has reported almost 500,000 cases of fraud and cyber crime that have resulted in financial loss.

Spanning data from November 2020 to November 2021, it was found that the UK has reported an average 40,586 cases of fraud and cyber crime per month, with an average financial loss of £5,700 per case.

The height of cyber crime activity appeared during the earlier months of the year. In February, the UK reported 47,800 cases equating to £267.6 million in financial losses, while in March more than 48,500 cases amounted to losses of £219.3 million.

Monthly breakdown of UK Cyber Crime and Fraud reports (November 2020 to November 2021)

 Total # ReportsTotal Financial
Loss (£)
Average loss per
reported case (£)
Nov 202036,277165,400,0004,559
Dec 202035,739163,500,0004,575
Jan 202141,347138,700,0003,355
Feb 202147,801267,600,0005,598
Mar 202148,546219,300,0004,517
Apr 202141,404161,800,0003,908
May 202139,614220,500,0005,566
Jun 202135,024167,500,0004,782
Jul 202135,701173,900,0004,871
Aug 202132,636165,300,0005,065
Sept 202128,160245,800,0008,729
Oct 202132,995187,000,0005,668
Nov 202131,791231,100,0007,269

Fraudulent activity using online shopping and auctions amounts to more than 100,000 reported cases through the year (100,168 in total) that equate to a value of £77.1 million in financial loss. The overall umbrella of ‘consumer fraud’ includes other criminal activity such as dating scams and bogus tradesmen, and accounts for £437.2 million of the country’s losses last year.

Overall, fraud and cyber crime cases relating to individual British residents account for 87% of the country’s total report volume. This translates to £1.8 billion of financial losses incurred over a reported 421,473 cases. Those aged 20-29 reported the most instances of criminal activity, with 82,000 reports made across the course of the year, followed closely by those aged 30-39, who clocked in 80,000-plus reports.

There were 62,976 reports made by British businesses throughout 2021, equating to a total reported financial loss of £736.3 million.

Commenting on the research findings, a spokesperson for Payback Ltd stated: “It’s difficult to see such high figures relating to fraudulent and criminal activity taking place over the course of the year. It is now imperative that members of the British public exercise caution when making financial transactions of any kind. They must ensure that they’re confident any transactions are conducted via official, safe and legal means.”

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