No high-value fraud cases were recorded in Scotland in the first half of 2020, according to new data released by auditor KPMG.
The company’s biannual Fraud Barometer revealed that not a single legal action worth more than £100,000 was registered between January 1 and June 30, compared with four totalling £1.2 million during the same period last year.
The finding has prompted a warning that Scotland’s courts could struggle over the next year as they may face a backlog.
Annette Barker, head of forensic at KPMG in Scotland, said: “With many of Scotland’s courts closed temporarily during the pandemic, it’s reasonable to assume the true extent of fraud committed across the country has been masked – not least as previous crises tell us that increased financial pressures on individuals can often drive increased criminal behaviour.
“It is therefore absolutely vital that businesses and consumers remain vigilant as Scotland enters what is likely to be a very challenging economic climate which will only drive fraudsters to take full advantage.”
Scotland’s court system had to adapt by lockdown measures brought in to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic.
Only 76 cases of alleged fraud were heard in all UK courts in the first half of 2020 – down from 217 prosecuted during the same period last year.
This 65% decrease reflects the significant impact of the Covid-19 crisis on law enforcement, according to the law firm.
Roy Waligora, KPMG UK head of investigations, said: “The Covid-19 environment has led to increased financial pressures on individuals and organisations, leading to more opportunities to commit fraud.
“This is likely to lead to further risk of financial misreporting and of misconduct and fraud in traditional hot spots such as procurement and supply chain.”