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Fraud and economic crime

Fraud is the act of gaining a dishonest advantage, often financial, over another person. It is now the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales, with an estimated 3.4 million incidents in the year ending March 2017.

More than half of these were cyber-related and the number of fraud and forgery cases dealt with by the CPS has risen by almost a third since 2011.

The CPS prosecutes thousands of cases of fraud every year. Many of the most complex cases are handled by the Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate (SEOCID), which includes prosecutors who specialise in fraud and economic crime.

Some of the most common examples of fraud and economic crime are as follows:

The illegal non-payment or under-payment of tax by an individual or a company. Offences might include the non-declaration of profits or the hiding money in offshore bank counts.

The fraudulent claiming of money from the Government through dishonesty, including failing to report a change in circumstances.

The process by which criminal proceeds are sanitised to disguise their illicit origins. Criminals attempt to find ‘safe havens’ for profits to avoid confiscation orders.

A catch-all term for any type of fraud committed using the internet. Examples may include fraudulent sales of goods, romance scams or  any other type of fraud facilitated online.

The use of a stolen identity to obtain goods or service by deception. For example, criminals may use your identity details to open bank accounts or obtain a loan.

Frauds against banks or bank customers. This can involve criminals posing as a bank or other financial institution, theft of banking details or falsification of bank transaction requests.

Involves cold calls, emails or direct approaches encouraging investment in something which is either worthless or does not exist. Also known as ‘boiler room’ fraud.

A bribe is the giving or receiving of a financial or other advantage in connection with the ‘improper performance’ of people in positions of trust.

The process of interfering with an election. Offences may include casting of votes fraudulently, fraud relating to nomination papers, or incorrect declaration of electoral expenses.

Where a person abuses a position of responsibility in which they are expected to safeguard the financial interests of another person or organisation.

Support for victims

The CPS is governed by the Victim’s Code which sets out the minimum standards of service that victims can expect from the criminal justice system.

The Specialist Fraud Division (SFD) has a number of unique issues in handling the victims of fraud, which derive from a variety of factors. For example, the nature and scale of the frauds which are prosecuted; the number of victims involved in particular cases or victims who are institutions or government bodies.

As a result there is additional guidance for SFD and the other central casework divisions which go beyond the minimum standards set out in the Victim’s Code. It allows us to offer an enhanced service to our victims and avoids us falling short when faced with cases of fraud and economic crime.

Further reading

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