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The human cost of fraud

5th August 2010

Read the accounts of 11 victims of fraud and the impact it had on their lives.

In 2009, the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies was commissioned to conduct research on victims of fraud for the National Fraud Authority – the government agency that runs Action Fraud – and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). ‘The human cost of fraud’ is the report that has been published as a result.

The human cost of fraud includes accounts from the following fraud victims:

Lorraine – Bogus holiday fraud victim
Lorraine took out a bank loan and booked a £1,500 holiday for her family online that seemed genuine. She says: “Oh it was awful, because we’d got a bank loan out to pay for this holiday and I then thought well what am I doing, because I’m now paying for something that I’ve not had…it knocked me for six…I think for days I was just walking around crying.”

Peter – Defrauded by his accountant
Peter ran a small business and hired an accountant who subsequently defrauded him out of £80,000.

David – identity fraud victim
A fraudster withdrew £9,500 from David’s bank account, using a fake passport in his name. He says: “It’s driven me to distraction… I’ve worked hard to build up my reputation, to build up my business… I’m very bothered that there’s some[one] out there who is running around, pretending to be me.”

Doreen – Pyramid scam victim
Care assistant Doreen was subjected to a hard sell to make an investment, when she agreed to part with her ISA of £3,000. The investment turned out to be a pyramid scam. Doreen did not tell her husband and was worried he would find out and was also concerned that some harm might come to her if she pursued the fraudsters. She was even targeted by the fraudsters’ solicitors to try to keep her quiet.

Mike and Steve – Multiple fraud victims
Mike and Steve were businessmen who purchased a company that they discovered was rife with corruption and fraud. They got into financial difficulty and Mike had to use his pension fund to make ends meet. Steve describes the toll it took on him and his family: “It’s when your…11 year old son says to you, um, don’t worry Dad, I’ll buy Mum’s Christmas presents this year.”

Harold – identity fraud victim
Former teacher Harold saw a couple of unauthorised transactions on his credit card bill. He asked for his card to be changed and thought the stolen identity problem had been resolved. Three years later Harold was arrested on suspicion of downloading child pornography. The bail was later cancelled, but serious damage had been done to Harold’s reputation.

Christine – West African letter scam
Christine was a pensioner in her 70s with a husband who was terminally ill with Alzheimer’s. Her husband received correspondence suggesting he could secure £500,000 if certain fees were paid. After the first fee was paid, Christine continued to agree to further payments which led to her losing £108,000 of life savings.

Lisa – daughter of a chronic fraud victim
Lisa discovered that her father was responding to foreign lottery letters, paying release fees when he was told he had won a prize. She estimated that he had lost £20,000 so far. She says: “I just felt dreadful because I knew that they were losing their life savings and I’d done everything I could possibly think of to stop it and I couldn’t stop it, there was nothing I could do, nobody could get through to him at all.”

Hilda – lottery fraud victim
Hilda, 83, received a letter telling her she had won a lottery prize of £500,000. She was told she had to make various payments to release the money. She lost £6,500 in total.

Val – pyramid fraud victim
Val invested £120,000, which was her husband’s inheritance, in an investment which promised a rate of return of 10%. The investment was in fact pyramid fraud that defrauded victims of £15million.

Bernard – small business fraud victim
Bernard ran a small company turning over £1million per annum. He decided to try to grow the business and employed a Chief Executive, but failed to go through an open competitive process or undertake appropriate background checks. Over the next year, due to incompetence, corruption and fraud, the Chief Executive destroyed the company and brought him and his wife to the verge of bankruptcy.

Read more about ‘The human cost of fraud’ by visiting MacIntyre Hudson's website.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

See also: 
Holiday fraud
Information and resources for businesses
Identity theft and fraud
Pyramid scams
West African letter scam
Lottery scams