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Tax evasion costs Treasury 15 times more than benefit fraud

At £30 billion per year, fraud in the UK is more than twice as high as thought, with tax evasion costing the public purse over £15 billion per year and benefit fraud just over £1 billion.

Based predominantly on 2008 data, the National Fraud Authority’s first ever Annual Fraud Indicator found fraud against the public sector accounts for 58% of the total fraud in the UK per year.

Tax evasion is around 3% of total tax liabilities, while benefit fraud accounts for 0.8% of total benefit expenditure.

In the private sector, the report shows the financial services industry recorded the highest loss to fraudsters, estimated to be £3.8 billion, with £1 billion in mortgage fraud and over £2 billion lost in insurance fraud.

The consumer goods and manufacturing industry are estimated to have lost £1.3 billion and £1 billion respectively.

Credit and debit card fraud is estimated to be 0.1% of all transactions.

Fraud - such as share sale fraud and lottery and loan scams - cost consumers around £3.5 billion per year, the report's author said.

Attorney General Baroness Scotland, who superintends the NFA, said: 'The NFA Annual Fraud Indicator is a milestone in tackling fraud. It means we now have a much more accurate fraud picture which is crucial so we can better target fraudsters.'

But she said more organisations need to measure and report the money they lose to fraud.

The government and the NFA have already promised to take a hard line on fraud and the government sett up a task force which hopes to reduce the impact of fraud on the public purse.

The NFA recently launched Action Fraud, the UK's first national fraud reporting centre, where victims of fraud can both report fraud and seek guidance and advice.

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