Business was booming for fraudsters in 2003, with the number of cases reported almost doubling, and the IT sector faces a higher risk of fraud than any other.
According to research by consultancy KPMG, solved fraud cases rocketed to 153 last year, compared with 83 in 2002. However, KPMG's Forensic Fraud Barometer report found the value of these cases has actually halved to £374m, from £716m in 2002.
David Alexander, fraud investigation partner at KPMG Forensic, said the recent rise was fuelled by the number of 'carousel' VAT fraud cases.
He said: "The IT sector is at higher risk [of fraud] because products tend to be more desirable.
"Almost 80 per cent of fraud cases are committed by organised crime or management. The key message is to not be complacent. Fraud can seriously damage not only the financial basis of a business, but also its reputation."
Eddie Pacey, group credit services manager at Bell Microproducts Europe, said: "I would say the incidents of credit card fraud quadrupled last year, while business fraud doubled.
"Sometimes businesses, whether large or small, when faced with pressure, tend to bend the rules a bit."
In a stringent crackdown on VAT fraud, the government altered VAT rules last year so that companies unwittingly involved in any part of the chain in this type of fraud could be held liable for the full amount.
Economic secretary to the Treasury, John Healey, said in a statement: "The clearest, most serious category of organised fiscal crime is VAT Missing Trader Intra-Community fraud.
"An aggressive response is required by Customs and Excise. It must match criminal methods and ensure taxpayers' money goes where it should, not in the pockets of serious tax criminals."
Healey also revealed that Customs is currently working on 100 VAT fraud cases worth a staggering £2bn.
A Customs representative added that the wide publicity that large fraud cases receive is helping to raise awareness. "We are dealing with 21st-century criminals, but the high-profile cases recently have made businesses more alert," she said.
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