Property offences have been declining in New South Wales, but one crime which has bucked this trend is fraud.
Aim: 1) To provide an understanding of the nature of fraud incidents recorded by NSW Police. 2) To find out which fraud types are contributing to the increase in recorded fraud.
Method: This study involved the review of 1,000 narrative descriptions of fraud incidents reported to or detected by NSW Police. Where possible we gathered information about the type of fraudulent behaviour, modus operandi, cost and whether a suspect was apprehended. Half the fraud events sampled occurred in the 12 months to September 2009 and half in the 12 months to September 2013.
Results: The most common types of fraud reported to police were card fraud (35% of incidents), fuel drive-offs (30%), identity theft (5%), embezzlement (4%) and cheque fraud (3%). Increases in card fraud and fuel drive offs appear to account for the bulk of the increase in fraud over the past five years. Incident costs recorded by police suggest that in 2013 incidents of fraud recorded by police cost more than $200 million. The average cost of fraud by incident type ranged from just $62 per incident for fuel drive-offs to more than $35,000 per incident for embezzlement.
Conclusion: Fraud is a growing problem and will likely continue to rise with new technologies and payment options. This study found that the fraud types with the highest recorded prevalence are quite different to those which have the greatest overall cost implication.