The United Kingdom has witnessed a sharp rise in whistle-blowing reports amid the COVID-19 pandemic years and the number jumped to 150 last year alone.
Reports to the fraud watchdog spiked 17 percent in the past two years due to the downturn of the economy in 2020 and 2021. Consulting firm Accuracy writes the Covid cases led to rising in fraud cases in three lockdowns faced by the company. The country faced three lockdowns during the period.
The Serious Fraud Office received the whistle-blowing reports and it is learned they have taken action on about 90 percent of the reports.
The UK lost about 4.9 billion pounds during the coronavirus pandemic period in the form of loan fraud and the government is currently trying to retrace it. Lord Agnew, the former Treasury minister, said the government is working in tackling the fraud.
It makes sense from the reports to the SFO that fraud rises when the economy is uncertain. It is simultaneously learned that employees working remotely reported the least compared to those working in the physical office.
Moreover, it is true that the internal controls during the pandemic changed for many companies and there was a lack of physical surveillance.
Meanwhile, it is simultaneously reported that the United States may have lost about $163 billion during the pandemic period in the form of fraud unemployment benefits.
The FCA is now under immense pressure to be slightly more assertive henceforth in tackling scams. It has earlier warned investors about general scams.
The Department of Labor's watchdog reports about 18 percent of the unemployment payments could be linked to fraud and not sent properly.
Inspector general of the department, Larry Turner, said the unprecedented infusion of funds encouraged the criminal groups and individuals to exploit the unemployment benefits program and it is a perfect storm.
He added the groups were able to defraud the system from the combination of easily attainable personal identifiable information and continued weaknesses in the UI program.
SFO was formed in 1987 by the Criminal Justice Act. It is a non-ministerial government department that investigates fraud and corruption in the country. It is accountable to the country's Attorney General. About 500 employees work for the organization and most staff is specialist caseworkers.
It should not be mistaken as a police force even though the organization enjoys certain investigatory powers. It cannot arrest people and need to take the help of NCA or police for the purpose.