Fraud 'costing UK economy up to £193 billion a year'
Fraud may be costing the UK economy as much as £193 billion a year - dwarfing previous estimates, according to a new report.
The huge sum is equivalent to an average of nearly £3,000 per head of population, with losses racking up at a rate of £6,000 per second.
It is a major jump compared to the last official estimate in 2013, which put the cost at £52bn a year.
The private sector has been under the biggest attack from fraudsters, the study suggests, with losses totalling £144bn a year. The cost to the public sector was put at £37.5 bn.
Fraud against UK citizens was estimated at £9.7bn annually, while charities and charitable trusts are believed to be losing up to £1.9billion.
The figures were revealed in the Annual Fraud Indicator 2016.
Professor Mark Button, director of the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth, wrote in the report: " No one knows the true cost of fraud in the UK, but it's taking place on an industrial scale and is without question one of the biggest crimes afflicting UK plc today."
Ian Dyson, commissioner of the City of London Police, said: " This report illustrates what my fraud investigators see on a daily basis, that the cost of fraud to business, individuals and the public sector is vast and continues to rise.
"What the report can't illustrate is the human cost of fraud which ruins lives and blights every community in the UK."
Shadow police minister Jack Dromey described the report as "shocking".
He added: "You are now more likely to be mugged online than in the street, and experts are right to say that rapidly growing cybercrime can be more costly, upsetting and difficult to investigate than 'conventional' crimes like robbery.
"Victims of fraud are being let down by this Tory Government."
Last year, the first official estimates of the scale of fraud and cyber crimes were released - sparking claims the overall crime count could be substantially higher than previously thought.
There were an estimated 6.6 million incidents of crime in the year ending September, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Fraud is a heinous crime.
"Victims can suffer both serious financial and emotional harm, and we know that the money fraudsters make can go on to fund other serious crimes and even terrorism.
"That's why we established the Joint Fraud Taskforce in February, unifying industry, law enforcement and the Government in the fight against these crimes and the perpetrators behind them.
"We are working with the biggest banks in the UK as part of this Taskforce to ensure that everything possible is being done to remove the vulnerabilities which fraudsters exploit and raise awareness of the ploys they use."