A rise in identity fraud and people claiming false qualifications have been the growth areas in fraud during the first half of the year, a study has claimed.
But despite this, the total value of fraud cases reaching court in the Midlands has fallen by 40 per cent to £5.6 million in the first six months of this year compared to £9.5 million in the first six months of 2004, KPMG's Fraud Barometer said.
Nationally, however, the picture was very different with the total reaching £250 million - two and a half times more than the first half of 2004, where the value of fraud reached £97 million.
The research, which for the last 15 years has considered fraud cases valued at more than £100,000 being heard in the UK, also recorded an increase in the number of cases reaching court, up from 78 cases in the first half of 2004, to 88 cases for January to June 2005.
However, the Midlands experienced a reduction, falling from 14 in the first six months of 2004 to nine in 2005.
One area of growth has been fraudsters looking to fuel extravagant lifestyles by inventing qualifications such as the case of a man who was
given a £125,000 a year job in Alcester but his claim to possess a PhD was fraudulent.
David Alexander, head of KPMG Forensic in Birmingham said: "We are used to fraudsters who steal and cheat in order to fund fantasy lifestyles of exotic holidays, fast cars and luxury homes.
"The recent trend shows an extension of this type of deception to inventing qualifications and identity theft."
Across the UK, fraud committed by professional criminals accounted for more than two-thirds of fraud undertaken in the UK during this period (£191 million), but over £38 million of fraud was committed by management and employees.
The average management fraud cost £2 million compared to the average fraud of £ 470,000 committed per employee.
Management often have the 'inside track' on the precise working of a business and can easily commit fraud by over- riding systems and controls.
A study last year by KPMG Forensic into the "Profile of a Fraudster" found long-serving male executives the most likely to commit fraud with about 40 per cent of fraud cases involving employees from the finance department.
In a bid to combat the growing number of frauds committed by employees, particularly management, the role of technology in helping companies spot nascent frauds themselves is now more important then ever.
Mr Alexander said: " Businesses may believe that they have robust controls in place but we are seeing more and more companies showing an interest in sophisticated and pro active forensic data analysis tools which can sift through large volumes of information to spot trends and anomalies.
"These tools can identify fraud red-flags such as outof- hours transactions, breaches of authorisation limits, duplicate payments, incorrect VAT numbers and post-codes to help businesses tackle commercial fraud." The Government remained the biggest victim of fraud, being hit by one in four cases.
In the first half of 2004 there were 22 cases of fraud against the Government where £ 177 million was fraudulently taken from them.
This included the case of a crooked financier who targeted 18 cash-strapped hospitals in a £4.5 million scam.
Posing as the high-powered head of a successful £ 38 million empire, the fraudster promised vital medical equipment at apparently unbeatable rates and conned NHS bosses across the UK to fund a life of luxury.