Counter-Fraud Digest: May 2023

11 May 2023      Ashley Shelbrooke, HEPA and Project Specialist

Welcome to the first edition of the newly established Counter-Fraud Digest.

In light of recent incidents of fraud impacting universities, the BUFDG Counter-Fraud Working Group wanted to provide members with an update on counter-fraud initiatives and guidance, as well as share upcoming events that may be of interest to those in the sector fighting fraud.

UK Fraud Strategy

Fraud remains a significant threat to the financial health of institutions, and it is essential to maintain a robust framework for preventing and detecting fraudulent activity.  As such, the government has this month released its Fraud Strategy.  The policy paper sets out plans to stop fraud at source and pursue those responsible wherever they are in the world, aiming to reduce fraud by 10% on 2019 levels by 2025.  Interestingly the paper also points towards the replacement of Action Fraud with a state-of-the-art system for victims to report fraud and cyber crimes to the police.


You may have joined Barclay’s managing the risks of financial crime in the education sector webinar last month.  If you missed the session then do not worry as it is available to watch on replay by clicking here.  The session is excellent, and well worth catching up on; during the webinar you can hear from Barclays Global Fraud Management, Financial Crime and Digital Eagles teams and also Dr Harding, a criminologist at Lancaster University who shared research on student vulnerabilities to becoming money mules.  The slides are also available to download here.

HMRC have also commenced a student mule awareness campaign; the resources shared with BUFDG include a flyer which can be provided to students and are available to download here.


As a BUFDG member don’t forget the resources that are available to you and your team to help counter fraud.

Insider Fraud

In their Charity Fraud Report, BDO noted a shift towards insider threats in recent years.  In this article, Kaley Crossthwaite, Partner, Forensic Accounting and Valuation Services, highlights the insider threat and the impact of two recent developments on fraud in this space – the cost of living crisis as well as hybrid working.  Kaley offers six excellent tips on how to tackle insider threats, including a focus on good recruitment.

Criminal Finances Act 

RSM have produced a useful two page resource for members which covers the corporate criminal offence of failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.  The information covers liability, consequences and defence, alongside a useful risk assessment checklist.  If you or your colleagues need a refresher on the Criminal Finances Act then don’t forget the BUFDG e-learning on this topic!

HMRC have also shared a message regarding steering clear of tax avoidance which members can read here.  The message includes a background brief, as well as an alert for issue to contractors.


It is important for finance staff in universities to remain vigilant and to report any suspected fraudulent activity immediately, including suspicious transactions, emails or phone calls.  Fraud prevention is an ongoing process; please do continue to regularly review and update fraud prevention policies and procedures to ensure that they remain effective.

Last, but by no means least, Erin Sims at RSM has authored a blog exploring if generative AI is a fraud friend or foe – have a read here – what do you think?

Read more

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