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Mortgages in the spotlight as fraud cases soar by 50 per cent

British business is under attack from fraudsters as never before, according to the accountancy firm KPMG.

In the first half of 2008, the value of fraud cases jumped by 50 per cent to £630m. This may just be the tip of the iceberg, however, as KPMG's figures reflect only those crimes that find their way into the courts. Experts believe that millions of pounds' worth of fraud either doesn't end in legal action or simply goes unreported.

The sharp jump in the value of fraud cases seems to be due in large part to two major stings carried out against financial institutions in the UK. The two cases involve an alleged £220m attempt to hack into the systems at the London offices of the Sumitomo Mitsui banking group, and a £70m effort at HSBC.

Separate from these big incidents, a sharp rise in mortgage fraud has contributed to the rise in the overall numbers for the crime. Between January and June this year, nine cases of mortgage fraud were recorded in the courts, representing an estimated £20m. In the whole of 2007 there were only 10 cases of mortgage fraud, totalling £3.7m.

This marries up with recent regulatory action by the Financial Services Authority, which has fined a host of mortgage brokers in the past few months for attempted fraud.