It is estimated that fraudulent activity is costing the UK economy £73 billion annually (National Fraud Authority, 2012). The Authority estimates fraud losses in the education sector at £163 million per annum.
HEFCE publishes various anonymised case studies based on reported examples of fraud affecting the HE sector. These include:
- fraudulent travel expense claims;
- payment of tuition fees using stolen credit or debit card details;
- cases where fraudsters purporting to represent a supplier have supplied false "revised" contact and payment details to the HEI, resulting in HEIs misdirecting substantial payments intended for legitimate suppliers.
Combating fraud requires a range of steps including:
- Implementing appropriate measures to prevent fraud, through systems, policies and staff training;
- Where appropriate, reporting incidents to regulators such as HEFCE and to the police;
- Seeking prompt advice about the potential recovery of misappropriated assets. This might involve commencing civil court proceedings, and obtaining an urgent injunction to freeze a fraudster's bank account;
- Keeping systems and policies under review.
Invariably when an incident occurs, an institution has to focus on its immediate response. However spending some time to ensure that sound procedures are in place in advance of any incident will help minimise the disruption which inevitably follows the discovery of a fraud.