Fraud is on the rise with more organised gangs becoming involved in crimes against business, the head of the West Midlands Economic Crime Unit has claimed.
Det Insp Dave Churchill of West Midlands Police warned that fraud investigations were in danger of becoming the "Cinderella" of the police service, with the Government focusing on other priorities.
While West Midlands Police had the biggest specialised unit outside London, more officers could be used to tackle the problem, he added.
"If you look at cheque and plastic crime last year, that was worth £504 million, and went up by 20 per cent compared with the previous year.
"We do not have enough resources to combat these increases.
"Nowadays, it has become far more organised.
"They are using the money for other areas like drugs for example. We are definitely seeing more organised criminality, more gangs."
Det Insp Churchill, who is retiring shortly to set up his own fraud investigation service, said banks were increasingly being targeted by people using bogus identities to obtain loans.
He said: "There are individuals who are using counterfeit cards and also people getting around electronic systems to get people's details.
"Gangs are also using illegal immigrants to open bank accounts, which are left dormant for a long time before they come back and try to obtain loans."
Another area of increase has been the false reporting of car accidents in order to make false claims to insurance companies.
Problems remained with many victims failing to report the problem to police.
"There is far more crime out there than is ever reported," he said. "That's because many people don't want the publicity, and they are fearful in terms of their image or what damage it could do to their stock market valuation."
Det Insp Churchill said the Government needed to look at the problem in greater depth.
"Fraud is not a prime area the Government has identified in its threat assessment, and it needs to be pushed higher up the agenda.
"The sentences do not equate to the damages it causes and the opportunities to make huge sums of money.
"A lot of frauds happen in one jurisdiction, and are identified in another, which means you have the difficulty of investigating in different countries and getting the relevant evidence.
"It also makes it difficult to get the witnesses and getting them to give evidence in court 12 months or two years down the line.
"You need strong judges to manage the case while it is running, but also during the pre-trial phase.
"But above all, there is a requirement to have experienced fraud managers to identify the main lines of investigation so you are not wasting time and effort."
Det Insp Churchill said the West Midlands was faring relatively well, compared with other parts of the country.
"We have a Chief Constable who is aware of the implications and effect of fraud in the region and has ensured that department is staffed as well as possible," he said.
"We are the biggest outside of London, but we could always do with a few more.
"If you stop people making money out of crime or taking the money off them when they've been convicted, that reduces the profit motive and stops other crimes."